Staffer claims Bridges lied to media about UN immigration petition

When a National party petition was taken down soon after the Christchurch mosque shootings the reasons given for the take down by Simon Bridges sounded suspect. First Bridges claimed the petition had been taken down weeks earlier as part of a ‘routine clean-up’. When it was shown that the petition was still in public view at the time of the shootings Bridges switched his claims to saying an ’emotional junior staffer’ had rushed to remove it.

The staffer claimed that Bridges lied to media, as his PR staff had been contacted before the petition was taken down.

It is now being reported that the staffer is expressing a different emotion after being accused of ‘serious misconduct’ by Bridges’ Chief of Staff.

Newsroom on March 19: Petition taken down by ‘emotional junior staffer’

After claiming a controversial petition against New Zealand signing the UN’s Global Migration Compact was taken down weeks ago, National now admits the petition page was deleted by a “junior staffer” who was “emotional” on Friday night, after the Christchurch mosque shootings.

The National Party had previously told media including Newsroom that the petition was deleted weeks before the attacks.

The party now claims that while it had asked for the page to be archived a number of weeks ago due to inactivity on the petition, it remained live without their knowledge until Friday night.

Google screenshot shows the page was still live at 1.39 pm on Friday, roughly the time the shooting took place.

National says they only discovered on Tuesday morning that the petition had not been taken down until Friday.

“The situation there is that I had understood the petition was deleted a matter of weeks ago as a matter of routine archiving,” Bridges said.

“What in fact happened, which I learnt this morning was that a junior staffer who was incredibly emotional on Friday night took it upon themselves to delete it, we didn’t know that until this morning”.

Bridges said he didn’t know whether the staffer had made decision to delete the petition.

“Honestly, I don’t know. We’re not going to be critical of it. As I say it’s a junior staff member — very emotional, I think New Zealand is emotional, given what we’ve seen,” he said.

Last night Stuff reported:  ‘Emotional junior staffer’ in dispute with National Party following UN petition deletion

The “emotional junior staffer” who deleted a petition from the National Party website is now in a dispute with the party after alleging media were lied to, two sources close to the situation say.

MPs who know him are upset with the way the staffer has been treated by leader Simon Bridges’ office.

The staffer, who has worked for National MPs in various roles for a number of years, has retained high-powered lawyer Linda Clark to represent his interests in the ongoing matter, the sources have told Stuff.

The staffer was upset that the National Party still had a petition online concerning the UN migration pact, which was mentioned by the alleged killer.

When the petition’s absence was noted, the party told both Newsroom and The Spinoff that the petition had been archived “weeks ago” as part of a routine clean-up. Newsroom had already reported the petition was deleted recently but following a conversation with a party spokesperson had corrected their story after being told the deletion pre-dated the attack.

This was proved false the following Tuesday when cached records made clear the petition was still live on the Friday afternoon.

Bridges explained this to media as a mistake, saying an “emotional junior staffer” took down the petition on Friday night, but his media team had believed it had been removed as part of a routine clear-up.

“I had understood that it was deleted some weeks ago as a matter of routine archiving. What in fact happened I’ve learnt this morning was that a junior staffer was incredibly emotional on Friday night and took it upon themselves to delete it,” Bridges said.

Both of the sources who talked to Stuff believed this was false, because a press secretary had been informed by the staffer that he wanted to delete the petition.

This sounds to me like the staffer did take it upon themselves to take down the petition, but after informing a press secretary.

If Bridges was informed of all this then it does look like he lied to media. If he inadvertently told a false story, then his press secretary at least has done a very poor job of communicating with Bridges.

But after the staffer took his concerns about the mismatch in facts to Bridges’ chief of staff Jamie Gray he found himself the subject of a dispute, with Parliamentary Service soon involved, the sources said.

One of the sources said Gray had accused the staffer of “serious misconduct” and began an investigation into the claims he made about lying to the media.

He is now out of the office on leave.

The staffer has been asked for comment.

Something that had looked concocted and messy at the time has blown up into a bigger mess for Bridges and National. This could easily have been avoided by being up front and honest.

A spokeswoman for Bridges said the issues surrounding the petition were “well traversed” already and directed all other queries to Parliamentary Service.

That sounds like Bridges is trying to traverse himself as far from the mess as possible. If the dispute is being dealt with he shouldn’t comment on any details, but he hasn’t helped his case by saying the issues were “well traversed”. The previous traversing did not go well for him, and this latest news makes it look less well.

Two meanings for traverse:

verb
1.  travel across or through.
2. move back and forth or sideways.

The way Bridges has dealt with this looks more like number 2. It doesn’t help that his recent manner of speech has seemed far from authoritative.

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  4th April 2019

    I saw that,Bridges and National,no suprises there

    Reply
  2. lurcher1948

     /  4th April 2019

    https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2019/04/face-of-the-day-1915/
    And Bridges thinks he can take Jacinda…on

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  4th April 2019

    Bridges has undoubted talent for endlessly stuffing up his own chances, seeming completely inauthentic, & being a dick as soon as he scores any success.

    Reply
  4. duperez

     /  4th April 2019

    I agree it looks like number 2. In fact a whole pile of number twos.

    Reply
  5. Corky

     /  4th April 2019

    ”It is now being reported that the staffer is expressing a different emotion after being accused of ‘serious misconduct’ by Bridges’ Chief of Staff.”

    What can you say?? What a weird country we are becoming.😵

    Reply

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