Bridges leak saga continues

It is amazing to see how the leak a few days early of Simon Bridges’ expenses has become such a big and persistent story.

Newshub (Tova O’Brien) kicked the story off, framing it as a big scandal of overspending. But it has become more a scandal of leaks, and now of why the Speaker Trevor Mallard suddenly called of a planned inquiry, why he involved Jacinda Ardern, and why Bridges and National are being so persistent in pushing for a resolution.

Last Friday O’Brien became strangely indignant that RNZ gave the story new legs, ironically citing concern over the welfare of the leaker her provided her with the story she broke, but Newshub have now given the story another nudge (but via Jenna Lynch): Simon Bridges still unconvinced expenses leaker is a National MP

The National party will launch its own secret internal investigation into who leaked Simon Bridges travel expenses.

On Friday, Speaker Trevor Mallard ditched his inquiry, telling National it was an internal matter for them to sort out.

Even though most signs point to the leaker being a National MP, Mr Bridges still isn’t convinced.

Newshub must know who the leaker is. O’Brien must know at least. They quote Bridges:

“I will do my best and the National Party is united in doing its best to get to the bottom of who the leaker is”

The text – which was sent days earlier to Mr Bridges, Mr Mallard and Newshub – asked for the inquiry to be abandoned, citing ongoing mental health issues.

The leaker’s text provided three specific details of closed-door National Party caucus meetings, yet Mr Bridges remains stuck on the idea the leaker came from outside his party.

“It may not be a National MP or a National Party staffer,” he says.

That doesn’t sound “stuck on the idea the leaker came from outside his party”.

Ardern: “This is a matter for the National Party”.

Bridges: “Well why, on what evidence, on what basis does she say that?”

A fair question. Why does Ardern know with certainty it’s a matter for only the National Party?

Newshub: “Despite the leaker’s text providing specific details of closed door National Party caucus meetings, Bridges isn’t convinced.

Newshub displayed what looks like a mock up of the start of the text message:

That is curiously worded and vague.  Newshub do not give further details would that indicate the knowledge claimed proves they are a member of the National caucus. Jenna Lynch on National’s inquity:

“Because it will be internal, even if the Nats do find the person responsible they may choose to keep that a secret, so we may never  learn the identity of the leaker…unless of course, someone was to leak that.”

An odd closing statement. ‘We’ the public may never find out who the leaker was, but ‘we’ the Newshub (or at least O’Brien’) must know who it is.

And questions are being asked about what Mallard and Ardern know about the identity of the leaker too.

NZH: Jacinda Ardern admits speaking to Trevor Mallard about leak inquiry but says it was perfectly innocent

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed she spoke to Speaker Trevor Mallard last Friday before he announced the cancellation of the inquiry into leaked travel expenses but says their conversation was to advise her of his decision.

“It was not a dialogue,” her spokesman said. “She did not have any input into the decision.”

She did not know who the leaker was and she did not have any conversation with the Speaker about who it might be, the spokesman said.

So she must have based her statements like “This is a matter for the National Party” on what Mallard told her.

National leader Simon Bridges, who also received the text, has suggested Mallard was influenced by Ardern’s public comments when she said it was an internal matter for National and should be dealt with sensitively.

Shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said today there had been no need for Mallard to advise the Prime Minister of his decision to cancel the inquiry.

“On what basis did he do that?”

Mallard had said he believed the leak came from National and the Prime Minister had said it should be dealt with sensitively, said Brownlee.

“On what basis do they make that statement? Do they know? And are they simply not telling us because of some commitments around parliamentary security and diplomatic protection security.”

Brownlee said if Mallard knew who the person was who leaked the document and sent the texts, he should tell National.

“He has made it very clear that his concerns are about the well-being of the individual concerned and we would share that concern and want to do something about it.”

“Most MPs are pretty incensed that the Speaker has gone out and effectively pointed the finger at our caucus and made a couple of pretty serious accusations – one of extreme disloyalty and another of a problematic mental illness.”

The police have been in contact with the leaker, but won’t give further details:

“We reiterate our comment from Friday that Police will not be disclosing any information about the identity of the individual for privacy reasons”.

“We also reiterate that Police assessed the information supplied [by Simon Bridges about the text] as a mental health issue requiring an immediate response.

“It is not subject to other investigative steps. We are not going to discuss any matters regarding specific steps taken regarding the welfare of the individual. “

I’m not sure it’s clear how the police found out the leaker’s identity, as it has been claimed the contact was made via an anonymous phone. Were they able to track the source to a specific office in Parliament? A specific residence in Wellington? or somewhere else?

Timeline (NZH):

August 13 – Newshub publish story based on Simon Bridges’ leaked expenses.
August 15 – Speaker Mallard agrees to hold inquiry.
August 16 – Bridges, Mallard and Newshub receive anonymous text message allegedly from National MP pleading for inquiry to be called off on mental health grounds.
August 17 – Bridges talks to mental health experts and tells police about text on advice.
August 19 – Police tell Bridges they have identified and contacted texter (won’t name them) and that the person is getting support.
August 23 – Mallard names Michael Heron QC to conduct inquiry.
August 24 – RNZ reveals texts were sent previous week to Bridges and Mallard; Ardern and others comment publicly.
August 24 – Mallard cancels inquiry.

The day the text was sent was a Thursday. Parliament wasn’t sitting so MPs may or may not have been at Parliament.

How did the police find out who the leaker was.

Were the three texts identical? Did Bridges or Mallard tell the police who it was? Or did they identify themselves only to O’Brien and she told them?

Last Friday:

But also:

O’Brien has said she was sent the same text message:

I was sent the same text message Simon Bridges and Trevor Mallard were sent last week by the leaker of Bridges’ expenses.

The leaker’s message was simple, in their words:

“There is no security breach in the parliament or problem to be fixed in the system.”

“Just say you know there is no security breach”.

They shared anecdotes from National Party caucus meetings that only National Party MPs would know in an attempt to prove that they’re an MP, and that the leak shouldn’t be dealt with at a Parliamentary level overseen by a Queen’s Counsel or High Court judge.

But Bridges and other National MPs say they are not convinced it proves it was a National MP.

Newshub chose not to report on the text message after we received it last Thursday. I held grave concerns for my source’s safety and wellbeing.

I would like to make it clear that when I was leaked Simon Bridges’ expenses I was completely unaware of my source’s history of mental health issues.

With some details of the text having been cherry picked, leaked and then discussed by Simon Bridges we have made the decision to release other elements to balance and include our source’s voice.

She refers to both “my source” and “our source”. She at least must know who it was – and as a journalist should protect the identity of her source.

But can she be sure the person who sent the text was her source? Did she verify it with them perhaps?

More importantly given the current state of this saga, does Mallard know who it is? It would appear so given his apparent confidence that it’s only an internal National Party problem now. So did he get a different text?

And why is Bridges and National so driven to keep this story alive and identify the leaker?

If there is a National MP with serious mental health issues, and/or who has said their life was at risk if the inquiry continued (effectively blackmailing Mallard), this is surely a concern of parliament and therefore of the Speaker.

The way things are now, if it is a National MP, then National have a major problem. It would mean they have an MP with serious mental health issues and/or threatened the Speaker.

And they have someone in their caucus who has leaked relatively trivial information to attack their leader. That makes things very awkward for Bridges and National, knowing that whatever caucus says could be leaked again. No wonder they want to identify the leaker.

UPDATE (Tuesday pm):

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57 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  August 28, 2018

    O.K lets keep it simple…cui bono?

    National rivals of Bridges leadership.They want a new leader.

    Labour…why on earth would they??

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  August 28, 2018

      Cui bono – as in who benefits your narrative?

      Reply
    • Ray

       /  August 28, 2018

      Every Caucus has people who aspire to be leader, the past Labour Caucus showed us that in spades.
      Labour had some bad news coming ( not often a Minister gets caught lying, sorry misremembering, to Parliament.
      What better than a storm in a teacup to divert attention.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  August 28, 2018

        so Mr Bridges is trying to run interference for…Labour…ewe are on form today Ray.

        Reply
    • PDB

       /  August 28, 2018

      “Labour…why on earth would they??”

      Why would Curran do what she did? Because she is inept as are most of her govt colleagues.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  August 28, 2018

        Former leader Key had the most impaired memory…suffered brain fade,forgetfulness ,amnesia…and was lauded as a…wonderful guy!

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  August 28, 2018

          The whataboutism is strong in you Blazer…as is the John Key Derangement Syndrome.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  August 28, 2018

            if ever I become deranged enough to use a psuedo nym that displays my contempt along the lines of say…’Pants Down Brown’…you will know I have reached the nadir of deranged malevolence.

            Reply
            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Tell us it’s not true, Pants!!!
              Key did have a very unreliable memory though, didn’t he; luckily, Cam Slater was in constant texter-contact with the then-PM and could keep him up to date with most things; what to say, where to point.

            • “Cam Slater was in constant texter-contact with the then-PM”

              That’s quite different to specific claims by Slater about having little contact. Do you have anything to back this up?

            • PDB

               /  August 28, 2018

              Far better to name yourself after a type of….jacket.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Jacket is worse than Pants?

            • PDB

               /  August 28, 2018

              Would you rather walk around town without a jacket or without pants?

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Taken together, Jacket and Pants, you make a very well-dressed fella, though I expect your colours clash.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Walking about town with your pants…down?
              That’s a bit distasteful, PDB.

            • PDB

               /  August 28, 2018

              Apparently Len’s performance was just as poor regardless if his pants were up or down.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Who cares (not me). With you, Pants Down, it’s a Momentous Thing that must Never Be Forgotten (I know! I’ll name myself after the events; nothing obsessive mind…)

            • PDB

               /  August 28, 2018

              Len Brown’s actions, ineptness and hypocrisy whilst in office sums up the NZ left-wing well, as did the shockingly soft interview John Campbell did with him. His legacy lives on with this new govt.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              It’s true then: you’re suffering Len Brown Derangement Syndrome.
              Seek help.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              “That’s quite different to specific claims by Slater about having little contact. ”
              Contradicting Slater’s claims is a strong an argument for my claims as anyone could possibly hope for, Pete; all but guarantees that I’ve got it right!
              I’m quite amazed to see you quoting Slater as a credible source of…anything! Have you two kissed and made up?

            • I didn’t see him as a credible source, nor did I say I see him as a credible source.

              But given the number of (often sweeping) claims you make without substantiating them, I don’t see you as a credible source on political things either.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Slater and Key were an item, texting (or textering, as Key would say) each other through the night, Key on his burner-phone, Slater carelessly using his regular device. Hand in hand, they were running the country (down).

            • phantom snowflake

               /  August 28, 2018

              PDB: Apparently Len’s performance was just as poor regardless if his pants were up or down.
              So you have inside information regarding Len Brown’s sexual prowess??
              Wow. Just Wow.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              “I don’t see you as a credible source on political things either.”
              What an unkind thing to say to one of your most active commenters, Pete. No matter. If you don’t respect my views, flick past them and don’t waste your time grinding your teeth over them. I don’t mind.

            • Don’t bank on it, I’m likely to keep holding you to account for making extragavant or unsubstantiated claims as I see fit, as I do with others.

              I wasn’t being unkind, I was giving you my honest opinion. You have a habit of not backing up claims you make.

            • PDB

               /  August 28, 2018

              Snowflake: “Wow. Just Wow.”

              Whaleoil who broke the Len Brown story: “According to a sworn affidavit provided by the woman, Brown – who she rated a ‘generous’ 4 out of 10 in the lovemaking stakes”.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Please, PDB, can we not be exposed to the (disturbing) inner-workings of your PDB Derangement Syndrome? For all of our sakes and decency too?

            • Blazer

               /  August 28, 2018

              4 OUT OF 10…!!Bet Brown regrets giving her that …silk necklace…now.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  August 28, 2018

          Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  August 28, 2018

    Reposting my open forum topic.

    This still has legs to run quite a distance, especially when the timeline is taken into consideration.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12114502

    “RNZ revealed at 6 am on Friday that the text had been sent the week before, Bridges had a standup at about 9.30 am and revealed he had referred the text to the police, Ardern made her comments about the National Party at about 10 am, Mallard spoke to Simon Bridges at 11.30 am, Mallard spoke to the Prime Minister at 11.45 am, and he issued his statement cancelling the inquiry about 12.45 pm.”

    When parliament resumes question time is going to be interesting as National forces the speakers hand (through questions to Ardern) to front up why the inquiry is not going ahead.

    I think the focus is going to be on

    “But the security of the parliamentary communications system was still a significant worry particularly over the next two years when the party would be engaged in policy formation.”

    Is parliamentary communications part of the speakers responsibility?

    Also note the deafening silence from NZFirst. Labour doing the bidding for Peters? This type of shenanigans is right up Peters alley and to have him not utter a word is interesting.

    I think that National know who the leaker (no not a National Caucus member) is and are playing the long game.

    Reply
    • alloytoo

       /  August 28, 2018

      “I think that National know who the leaker (no not a National Caucus member) is and are playing the long game.”

      I agree, first rule of Lawyering, don’t ask a question (in court) you don’t know the answer to.

      I suspect Bridges knows the answer,

      Reply
  3. robertguyton

     /  August 28, 2018

    A loopy Nat dunnit.

    Reply
    • If that’s true, isn’t it an important issue to resolve if a National MP has serious mental health problems, and/or is prepared to use mental health as a means of coercing the Speaker?

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  August 28, 2018

        Yep. National should get on with it. They can afford to pay for an inquiry and they can’t afford to leave the issue to fester. I look forward to Bridges’ announcement. I wish the ill fellow well.

        Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  August 28, 2018

        Depends if you believe there is a mental issue at stake here or it is a simple ruse to push the conflict under the table.

        Reply
  4. robertguyton

     /  August 28, 2018

    Come clean, Meester Breeches!

    Reply
  5. Patzcuaro

     /  August 28, 2018

    How bizarre
    How bizarre, how bizarre

    Reply
  6. PDB

     /  August 28, 2018

    PG: “So she must have based her statements like “This is a matter for the National Party” on what Mallard told her.”

    RNZ timeline: “Ardern made her comments about the National Party at about 10 am””Mallard spoke to the Prime Minister at 11.45 am”.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  August 28, 2018

      yet said exactly that weeks..before..try again,try harder.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  August 28, 2018

        Do you have some alterative facts you’d like to table?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  August 28, 2018

          I prefer real facts and real news,thank you.

          Reply
          • PDB

             /  August 28, 2018

            So nothing as usual from you? No surprises there.

            The fact is Ardern categorically said that the leak was strictly an internal one for National whilst there was an ongoing inquiry into the matter and before she had spoken to Mallard. Within hours of her statement, and straight after talking with Mallard the inquiry was shut down by Mallard. Might be nothing – might be something.

            Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  August 28, 2018

          McFlock reckons:
          “…
          27 August 2018 at 4:54 pm
          Text has details of a meeting.
          You ask people at the meeting “does this check out”.
          If they say “yes” then the leak came from someone at the meeting.

          Simon needs to come up with plausible scenarios of how multiple details from caucus meetings ended up being texted to himself, the speaker, and a reporter, without actually coming from someone present at those meetings.

          Good luck with that. Somehow his caucus is either leaking directly to journalists, or leaking like a seive to someone who leaks to journalists. Oh, and were the spending records discussed at caucus? Because then you’d have a single point for all the leaks.

          Although who leaked the texts about the leaks? Mallard’s office wouldn’t have received those texts. Mallard might have texted himself, but then the expenses that were leaked weren’t in the format his office received, but were in the format the nat caucus received. So Mallard gets leaked from the nat caucus multiple details about caucus meetings including the expenses of which he already has a copy, then Mallard leaks to O’Brien the information that was leaked to him. Because lolz. And who in caucus leaked it to him in the first place?”

          Reply
          • Gerrit

             /  August 28, 2018

            If Mallard leaked to the press he is in serious trouble.

            A honorable speaker would have referred the initial leak (if there was one) back to the National party caucus to action internally and kept his mouth shut..

            Not spread it out to his crony MSM mates. That is corruption.

            No wonder Mallard, after a word from Ardern, was keen to shut the inquiry down.

            Reply
            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              Of course Mallard didn’t, that’s nothing more than plucked-from-the-air pabulum. Your speculation is based on froth or your own making and has as much substance.
              Details of the Nat caucus were revealed. Who spilt?
              A Nat.

  7. lurcher1948

     /  August 28, 2018

    So who in the national party looks suicidal, who has been So quiet and has been keeping her head down,so many suspects who are after the top job…so many questions.

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  August 28, 2018

      Paula Bennett looked very unwell in the House recently. I’m not saying she was the Nat that spilt, only that she looked very unwell: grey and subdued.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 28, 2018

        it doesn’t make sense to me robert. Looking at that bit of text NewShub has recreated why would the leaker want to tell Bridges they were in his caucus – knowing that whatever public pronouncements Bridges might make to put the spotlight on a biased Speaker – this claim would have to set off an internal witch hunt to find them.

        I’m suspicious of the texter’s claim of mental health issues. If they were suffering from extreme anxiety, for example, they would most likely be catastrophising – turning over every possibility under which they could be “outed” in their mind – & an internal witch hunt – if they told Bridges they were in caucus – would be one of the very things they’d almost certainly identify straight away to worry about.

        This smells like a set-up by someone external to National’s caucus to me.

        Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  August 28, 2018

          “internal witch hunt” – so you think it was Judith Collins, Gezza?
          🙂
          Doesn’t make sense indeed. Accusing Mallard is laughable. That he would set up an inquiry, then fabricate a text in order to have an excuse to shut the inquiry down, is just nonsensical. Brownlee and Bridges are making fools of everyone, especially themselves, with their insinuations. As far as mental health is concerned; that can vary day to day and present in a variety of ways. The initial leaking isn’t an example of “crazy” behaviour; it’s perfectly reasonable, imo. I’ve not seen the “bit” of text, but is sounds as though it indicates a stressed state of mind, judging by Bridges and Mallard’s comments about it. I don’t believe that the texter, being the leaker, could be from Labour, because of the details provided on inner-Nat caucus discussions. I don’t believe they person could be from Parliamentary Services, as their actions would be regarded as criminal, and the police haven’t responded accordingly, nor have the alerted Mallard, as they would be bound to do. Despite those ‘beliefs’, I’m well aware that there are possibilities and combinations of possibilities that could easily escape detection by me, a non-sleuth and only vaguely interested bystander, so don’t really have a solid idea of what’s happening, though I enjoy throwing my “perhaps it’s…” in wherever I can fit it. As far as Bridges is concerned, he’s making a fool of himself, Imo, though getting plenty of much-needed exposure; what a load of bollocks, most people will say and think. Generally though, I think of pithing toads; stirring their brain with a needle as a way to render them all but lifeless so that they can be dissected without them hopping and twitching; the NZ public are being pithed by those involved at the pointy end o this issue and will be go into a state of thinking-paralysis soon, if we haven’t already and perhaps that suits someone, somewhere. That’s what I think. Perhaps.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  August 28, 2018

            It won’t be Judith. At least not directly. I don’t know at what point Mallard was told the police weren’t going to identify the texter. But at that point it probably isn’t all that unreasonable to assume the enquiry wouldn’t get any further.

            If the leak itself was considered a criminal act it would have been the police asked to investigate the matter anyway.

            Whoever wants to completely undermine Bridges has succeeded because the entire situation is now farcical and he’s the centre of it. It’s a dirty tricks campaign but I think it’s highly likely to be someone connected to the National party caucus but not in it.

            There is no logical reason for anyone in another party to try and cause problems for National’s leader – he’s not tracking well in either the polls or the public affections.

            That said, though, there’s still an outside possibility somebody outside the National party could have had a reason to cause ructions and suspicion within the caucus, because the party itself is still polling strongly.

            Reply
            • lurcher1948

               /  August 28, 2018

              Judith via whaleblubber Slater…being done before

            • Gezza

               /  August 28, 2018

              I dunno lurch. Judith would be such an obvious candidate (via that sort of strategy) I reckon the leak and now the text would have to have been intended to cause her problems in caucus as well.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 28, 2018

              It’s a strong possibility; maybe a bit of a slip-up; Judith natters to Slater, floats the idea of a leak, half-heartedly, knowing there could be blow-back, Slater goes ahead anyway, thinking it’s only a minor dig at Bridges, it all gets too serious, texts the “I’m mentally unstable” plea and everything spirals out of control. Now, with an investigation, Bridges can take Collins and Slater out; nice 🙂

  8. Reply
  9. robertguyton

     /  August 28, 2018

    Headline: Bridges determined to hound mentally-ill leaker “till he breaks””

    Reply
  1. Bridges leak saga continues — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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