Winston Peters versus ministries and MPs nearing an end

The Winston Peters versus government ministries and heads of departments, and two National MPs, is nearing an end as closing addresses began yesterday.

There is no doubt that Peters’ privacy was breached, but despite Peters making serious allegations and insinuations there is no indication of solid evidence to back up any of his bluster. This looks to me like classic Peters – he has a long history of making accusations and not backing them up with evidence or substance.

Peters claims his reputation was damaged, which is rather ironic given the number of times he has tried to smear the reputations of others over the years, but his own disclosure to media of a seven year overpayment of his superannuation, and what has been revealed due to his own claims and actions in this case, are making it like more of an own goal.

Peters is finding that he can’t get away with bluster and bullshit in court like he has in politics for decades.

The case has proven that he has made false claims, in particular that MSD had conceded they made a mistake with his Super application form – it appears to have has been made clear in court that Peters made the mistake himself and signed in incomplete and inaccurate disclosure. For some reason he disclosed that he was married but separated, but he failed to disclose that he was living in a relationship with Jan Trotman. It was when Trotman applied for Super in 2017 that MSD became aware of the incorrect payments to Peters. They had asked for conformation from Peters that his details were correct in 2014, but he claims not to remember receiving the letter.

Despite all Peters’ insinuations and innuendo the case seems to have come down to whether it was proper for government departments to advise ministers under the ‘no surprises’ practice. Department heads have made it clear that the procedure was normal and proper, and also said that Peters’ claim there was a 3 month pre-election no disclosure period was not based on facts.

Newsroom – Expert surprised by Peters’ claims

Former top civil servant Sir Maarten Wevers has thrown doubt on three claims by Winston Peters that governing conventions were ignored by two chief executives who told National ministers about Peters’ superannuation overpayment.

Wevers, an expert witness called by the Crown defendants in the breach of privacy case brought by the NZ First leader, backed each of the two chief executives’ decisions and conduct in the affair – and told the High Court Peters was wrong on three claims he had made in court.

Wevers backed both Boyle’s decision to brief his minister, Anne Tolley, and Hughes’ decision to brief Paula Bennett.

“A high-profile, notable, and very public figure had received money through the state benefit system that he was not entitled to. That followed an error he had made on a statutory declaration he had made.

“The individual was a former Cabinet minister, sitting senior MP, leader of a political party.

“There were issues in play as to the integrity of the system,” Wevers said.

Boyle had not rushed to judgment, Wevers said, but consulted with the State Services Commission – whose advice was the appropriate “buttress” in such a situation between a department and minister. His briefing to Tolley met expectations and “given what was going on with Metiria Turei, this was a matter with potentially high public interest. “That was the context – if Mr Peters had become public, another MP had received money they were not entitled to.

“Ministers expect to be forewarned about this and to be assured that MSD had handled the matter appropriately and to defuse any suggestion there had been preferential treatment.”

Wevers said in his opinion Hughes’ briefing to Bennett had also been appropriate. “In the same position I would have taken the same course.”

That addresses (and opposes) the main claim by Peters in the case.

Newsroom – Words matter to these civil servants, Mr Peters

Journalists and opposing politicians seldom have the opportunity to precisely fact-check – with access to his documents – claims made by Winston Peters. But one government department has done it.

A Winston Peters interview on RNZ in August 2017 has featured repeatedly in his High Court privacy case.

Peters had denied, to RNZ, a report by Newsroom that he was billed $18,000 by the Ministry of Social Development for the seven-year overpayment, in an interview that also ran in a story on the Stuff website on August 28, 2017.

The MP said he repaid “way less” than $18,000 and then said it again:

“To say I repaid $18,000 is demonstrably false.”

He didn’t pay back $18,000. The court heard, first from Peters on day one and then repeatedly from others, that he repaid $17,936.43.

It was court evidence so is accepted as demonstrably true rather than his claim of “demonstrably false”.

In the same Stuff story, Peters made the following claims, all fact-checked by MSD in preparing for its officers’ time in the court-room. This interview was after he had looked into the problem, had it explained to him and received and paid the invoice for the debt he owed:

– Peters claimed the overpayment likely started in 2013/14. MSD staff and Peters confirmed in court it started on April 12, 2010, the day he applied for it.

– Peters said he had asked in 2017 to speak to the person who dealt with his case in 2010 but that person no longer worked there so couldn’t act as a witness. MSD witnesses told the court the staff member worked in 2017 at the same office, in the same role, and does so until this day. She gave evidence for MSD to defend Peters’ claim. An MSD witness denied Peters had asked her in 2017 if he could speak to that original case manager.

– Peters had said about his repayment: “The reality is a payment like that also attracts interest.” An MSD witness told the court she had seen this claim by Peters and it was wrong. The ministry never charged interest on debts it wanted repaid and no issue of financial penalties would arise unless fraud had been involved, which was not the case for Peters.

– Another MSD witness told the court she had seen in a media report in 2017 that Peters had claimed he had not received the full superannuation because his payment had been “abated”. She said no such abatement existed and the records back to 2010 showed he had been paid the full rate.

– Evidence from the official who dealt with Peters in 2017 said: “I remember reading in the media that Mr Peters was saying MSD had been unable to resolve how the mistake happened. That is not correct. It was very clear to me, which I communicated to Mr Peters in our meeting, that he had been paid the incorrect rate of superannuation as a result of his declaring at question 26 that he was in a relationship and completing the partner details accordingly. He had been paid in accordance with his declaration – as a single person.”

– A regional official said she was aware of Peters’ evidence that his application form was incomplete because he had not ticked a box on his current relationship status. “Based on all my service experience I do not consider the form is incomplete and I am not surprised it was processed in the form. The key information needed to determine Mr Peters’ relationship status was provided, i.e that he was separated.”

– Another official also challenged the claim MSD had made the original mistake. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist at times,” the case manager he dealt with in 2010 told the court. “It was hard to hear that I had made a mistake. I was upset because I knew this was not correct, but I had no way to defend myself.”

– Further, she said media reported Peters saying there appeared to have been an alteration on his application form and no one knew how it had been made. “Categorically, we do not alter forms,” she said.

– Two MSD officials recalled Peters having told media he had dealt, in 2010, with a “very senior” MSD official. The woman concerned told the court: “He referred to me as a very senior person at MSD. I definitely do not consider myself a very senior person at MSD. Case manager is hardly what I call very senior.”

Tim Murphy and Newsroom have been providing detailed coverage of the case (Murphy was originally included in the legal action).

In this story, they alleged Peters had made multiple errors on filling out his form, and dated his signature on it on a different day to that which he claimed. He has also cited in evidence an incorrect and irrelevant statistic about MSD cases involving relationship issues.

In this story, they challenged his claims over an MSD policy and a public service pre-election protocol.

In this story, the court heard three staff from the office at which he applied for super in 2010 would give evidence that Peters attended alone and his partner Jan Trotman was not there. Both the MP and Trotman gave evidence that she was there, but the three officials appeared later in the week and on oath repeated their firm belief that he had been alone at all times.

Yesterday final addresses began – Peters case: The dog that didn’t bark

The lawyer for Crown defendants in the Winston Peters superannuation leak court action says the NZ First leader’s evidence is like ‘The Case of the Dog that Didn’t Bark’.

Victoria Casey QC told the High Court at Auckland in her closing submission on day seven of the case that Peters had made sweeping allegations against the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes, the former chief executive of the MInistry of Social development and the ministry itself.but had not backed them up in court.

His statement of claim for damages over the leak of information in 2017 on his seven-year, $18,000 overpayment of national superannuation claimed the officials and department had acted in bad faith, but neither Peters’ evidence in court nor his lawyer’s cross examination of witnesses had attempted to confirm that.

The now Deputy Prime Minister claimed the disclosure of the overpayment information was for the purpose of salacious gossip and made deliberately to political opponents before the election but  he had not made the case for any of these central claims. “The plaintiff is required to prove his case,” Casey said.

“This case is, with respect to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the case of the dog that didn’t bark…. The silence is, with respect, resounding.”

Bruce Gray QC, closing for two former National ministers Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett, who Peters is also suing for $450,000 in the breach of privacy case, told Justice Geoffrey Venning: “We have asked ourselves: ‘why are we here’? What is this case about?”

The lawyer said Peters had acknowledged in court he was more sensitive about privacy than many people and his desire for secrecy might have been the reason for his original failure to provide full information about his de facto relationship when applying for superannuation. “He did not feel it necessary to make disclosure of something he preferred” people not to know about him.

The MP had chosen to reveal to the public the fact of his overpayment and the MSD agreement that he should repay the $18,000. That was the reason it became known and had set the tone of media and public commentary. No other publication had occurred, Peters had provided zero evidence there had been ‘social media’ publications about him as he claimed and the fact two journalists had received anonymous calls did not mean a publication was imminent. The calls in themselves were not  evidence of serious harm to Peters.

He said Tolley and Bennett did not even get briefed on the extent of information provided to journalists by the leaker. “It seems they did not know there had been any suggestion at all that Mr Peters had lied, so could not have told anyone that.

“In any event the publication was not highly offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person. Mr Peters is not an objective reasonable person. He is more sensitive than average to privacy matters. His subjective views are not the test in this case.”

Gray told the court: “This proceeding is a defamation case in drag. We still do not know precisely what Mr Peters complains about.

Peters was seeking $450,000 from each defendant. “The plaintiff’s claim in this case is beyond extravagant and is further evidence for the genuine motivation for the proceeding,” Gray said.

“It is a shame this claim had to be made. It seems to arise from an inability to accept a mistake had been made, and a desire to punish.”

Victoria Casey QC, for the three Crown defendants, began her closing late in the day and will finish this morning.

She said: “Something happened that should not have happened. The fact that it did enter the public domain did not establish that the Crown defendants are liable at Common Law and MSD is not liable for unknown actions to the media.”

Peters had conducted the case in a way that made serious allegations about her clients in pleading but did not bring them up personally in evidence or in cross examination. She said to Justice Venning: “We do ask that you pay attention to who was asked what and more importantly who was not asked anything.”

The MP claimed  in the media in 2017 that senior officials had been part of a “cartel playing politics” and that “very senior politicians had been operating outside the law… in tandem with ministers.”

Casey said: “This is the case to which that privilege applied. This is the case where if Mr Peters had any foundation for these comments they should have been brought before the court. We have no evidence whatsoever about a cartel, a conspiracy and no questions to the ministers or chief executives about these claims.”

Despite all Peters’ public claims the case made at court against the Crown defendants seemed to come down to the decision the chief executives took to brief their ministers on the Peters situation after it had been resolved.

“There is no allegation pleaded or in evidence that the plaintiff [Peters] suffered damage from the briefings to ministers.”

In claiming that his reputation has been tarnished Peters himself has taken to court and called into question the reputations of MSD employees, department heads and two MPs.

It may turn out that he has enhanced his own reputation of a blusterer and bullshitter.

Anne Tolley’s reputation has taken a bit of a hit – Minister told husband, sister about Peters’ super

Former National minister Anne Tolley told her husband and her sister about Winston Peters being overpaid superannuation after she was briefed by the head of the Ministry of Social Development.

But most shots fired in court have been blanks or missed their mark.

Tolley and Bennett reject Peters’ claim that under the legal principle of ‘res ipsa loquitur’ or ‘let the thing speak for itself’, Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Venning should infer they disclosed the Peters’ information publicly.

Gray said: “They resist this. They say that neither of them disclosed the information.”

There has been no evidence produced of who disclosed the private information.

Newsroom – Two ministers and a drunken conspiracy

Could someone from the National Party, stressed, and slightly or heavily intoxicated have told journalist Barry Soper that news of Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayment was about to leak?

That was an implication from a series of questions from Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry in the High Court at Auckland today to former National minister Paula Bennett.

He did not ask Bennett if she was that person.

But when he asked her if she had a view on the “inference” which could be taken from Soper’s evidence on Tuesday that he had been told by someone from National, she answered:

“No. I’ve had many allegations made as to who may or may not have leaked this but I see no more validity in this than any other.”

Henry, who had called the NewstalkZB political editor Soper to give evidence under subpoena, said: “Someone told him about this coming scandal for Mr Peters. Someone he is leaving us to infer is from the National Party.”

It was in Bennett’s cross-examination that Henry, for Peters, suggested a National person had been Soper’s source.

Despite Soper declining in court to reveal that source, Henry told Bennett: “He had been told by a source that we are left to infer was from the National Party.”

Justice Geoffrey Venning interceded to say: “That’s your inference, I think, Mr Henry.”

In politics Peters is big on bark but often without evidence to back up allegations and innuendo and inference.

In court he has barely whimpered, and his lawyer Brian Henry has had a hard job inferring for him with a glaring lack of substance.

Perhaps the dog ate the evidence.

Defence closing submissions will conclude today, and will be followed by the closing submission by Peters’ lawyer.

Leave a comment

53 Comments

  1. “The lawyer said Peters had acknowledged in court he was more sensitive about privacy than many people and his desire for secrecy might have been the reason for his original failure to provide full information about his de facto relationship when applying for superannuation. “He did not feel it necessary to make disclosure of something he preferred” people not to know about him.”

    Yeah, and I’m sensitive about paying my taxes but can’t just make up bs like Peter’s and get away with it. Apply criminal charges for fraud and lock him up. Better still put an ankle bracelet on him so corrections always know where he is.

    Reply
    • Peters is lucky that MSD took the view that he made a mistake. He actually did several things wrong – didn’t fill out his form fully and accurately, signed it as correct (and since claimed that it was MSD’s responsibility to ensure it was correct), and either missed or ignored a letter asking him to confirm his situation.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th November 2019

        The thing that’s really got me puzzled is whether Jan Trotman really went with him to apply or not. It’s 3 MSD staff members’ word against theirs that she was there. I’ll be interested to see what if anything the judge concludes, altho I’m expecting he will simply note the discrepancy.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  13th November 2019

          Peters doesnt drive . Hes well know to use Trotman and sometimes others outside Auckland to take him everywhere. Now hes Deputy PM the government provides car and driver.
          I seem to remember one MSD person referred to ‘ a woman as his secretary’ during the meeting.
          here it is
          “Trotman said she remembered driving him to the MSD office in 2010, where “he went to the reception desk while I was waiting off to the side”. She then went to the office with Peters and the case manager, where she watched the case manager work on her computer and Peters look at forms. Trotman did not participate in the discussion.

          “I made a judgment as to when the interview was finishing and I left to get the car. Having the car outside lets him control the discussions with the public … A manager had asked to meet him and staff wanted photos. I did not meet, see or know who this manager was.”

          Trotman said she returned days later to that same office to hand in material that was needed for Peters’ application. That visit might have explained an MSD staff reference to his ‘secretary’ having attended.”
          https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/11/06/896401/trotman-forced-out-of-winstons-shadow

          Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th November 2019

        I wouldnt say Peters was ‘lucky’ MSD took the view he made a mistake. Do you think that MSD in their entirety never make mistakes too’
        This was best summation by Susan St John for the conflicting answers
        He thought he was being asked for his marital status when he ticked ‘separated, living apart’. That answer then took him to ask if he wanted a living alone payment. As he was not living alone he ticked the ‘No’ box.”

        I dont know what the form was over a decade ago There still is whole strings of answer these questions and then ignore these questions and answer others. Some people seem to assume that its ‘answer every question’, when its not, its hopping all over.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th November 2019

          My tuakana qualified for NatSup last year. I texted him when Peters’ case started, asking whether he had to go into a Work & Income Office to personally apply for super. He replied at some length yes, & that it was a thoroughly frustrating & confusing process.

          I’ll find out next year.

          Reply
  2. Why hasn’t there been more coverage of this in the news as well? Very strange.

    Reply
    • There has been some coverage – stuff has done a bit, and there’s been a little from 1 News. I don’t follow NZ Herald now they have a paywall so don’t know what they have been doing on it.

      The media focus has been on the Grace Millane case, which has been grossly overdone. I turned 1 News off last night when they started on it again. Far too much detail in an awful case.

      Reply
      • Very true about the Millane case. And re: his ‘mistake’; Peters has always had the luck of the Irish in politics. Consequences don’t seem to follow him as they do others.

        Reply
        • lurcher1948

           /  13th November 2019

          You dislike Winstone don’t you artcroft,i like him and i will vote for him again,and i hope blabbermouth Tolley pays the price for being a blabbermouth,an expensive mistake i think

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th November 2019

        The information provided in both Grace’s case & Amber Rose’s must be very hard on their loved ones because in both cases some not so angelic & with hindsight very foolish aspects of their behaviours have come to light. In my view both cases – but on TV1, & in particular, Grace’s case – Amber-Rose has been given less newstime – the disingenuous & salacious msm coverage, especially in relation to other young women who spent time with this pervert, is amounting to murder porn.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th November 2019

          There will be cries of ‘victim blaming’, no doubt, if anyone suggests that having sex with a stranger and engaging in rough, potentially dangerous sex acts is a really risky thing to do. But it is, for anyone. Men have been robbed and assaulted when they go off with a woman; this has been happening forever. In a Victorian novel which is based upon a real East End district, ‘bringing (victims) to the cosh’ is a nice little earner; the woman lures the mug to a viaduct or similar place, where her male partner is waiting. The record, which was greatly envied but had never been beaten, was 26 in a night.

          It would, I think, be easier to accept that one’s daughter had been killed by a stranger who had jumped out at her than that the death was the result of a risky sex act with someone she’d just met and with whom she was having sex the same evening.

          The way trials are covered IS murder porn. There doesn’t seem to be much that’s new in the Grace Millane trial (I don’t listen to every word) and it’s the ultimate invasion of privacy, as was the Blessie Gotingco case. We all know what rapists do and what they leave in the victim’s body. Why did the news need to report all this ?

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th November 2019

            Some people must think that we do need to know. How pervy is that ? Porn is easily obtained, as far as I know, the people who get off on these things don’t need to have it free on the news.

            The ‘evidence’ given by the woman who met him the next day seems very dodgy indeed and not very believable.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  13th November 2019

              It’s all a bit much for ma. Her best friend she book swaps with just gave her Fifty Shades of Grey. She told me she can’t imagine how the author could know all about these perversions & finds it so awfully debased & embarrassing she “skips over a lot of the really awful, crude sex stuff”.

  3. For a long time Peters has run rings around media, using and abusing them. He is finding social a lot more difficult to deal with.

    Newshub: Suicides will increase if social media isn’t regulated – Winston Peters

    Winston Peters says the laws governing social media must change or there will be more suicides in New Zealand…

    The 74-year old NZ First leader, who once famously appeared to tweet a search of his own name, added: “Either you want that kind of jungle or you want a civilised society with standards.”

    Peters says companies like Twitter and Facebook will soon be forced to follow the same rules and laws as mainstream media.

    “You cannot say what you like in mainstream media [because] you are governed by rules of libel and defamation, [and] you cannot traduce people’s reputations without facts, and the social media are.”

    This is a bit funny – Peters has got away with saying what he likes in mainstream media, often without producing facts (he has sometimes implied he has facts and evidence but failed to produce them).

    He is right that social media is like an uncontrolled jungle. But it is hard to see that changing much.

    It is notoriously difficult to regulate international social media domestically. But according to the Prime Minister, it’s in train.

    “What we’re looking for here is just consistency, moving into the modern era and that’s an area that [Internal Affairs] Minister Tracey Martin’s been working on,” Ardern said on Tuesday.

    But it seems Minister Martin missed the memo.

    “I’m not working in that space,” she said. “It’s still a conversation to be had we haven’t had that conversation yet… I’m not confident it’s actually 100 percent my area.”

    That’s despite Ardern saying she is “content with the pace” that work is being done in that area.

    Doesn’t sound very promising.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  13th November 2019

      The Winz staff didnt make very good witnesses. Didnt notice his partner with him, while her recollection seems very good ( bringing the car around etc ) Some questioned whether she was there , but of course Winston doesnt drive and wouldnt have caught the bus!
      The other point is Im sure the forms people fill in now are more detailed or worded differently.
      The public service chiefs seemed to be their usual silver tongued avoiding the main point.
      The Social Security Act provides legal protections for beneficiaries privacy. No surprises is just a policy , not legislation.

      Funny an old nugget turned up , where Key wasnt happy about the new BMW re-order. The truth about that was he signed off on the new purchase but said he only heard about it from his driver. Why does Key have so much trouble over his signature !
      The H fee story was waved away with the final excuse ( after many different explanations) that ‘it was someone else in the office with the same signature” . The media bought that one hook line and sinker.!

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  13th November 2019

        The Social Security Act provides legal protections for beneficiaries privacy. No surprises is just a policy , not legislation.

        While it’s a fact that legislation will always take precedence over any government or departmental policy where there is a conflict, in most cases in the ordinary course of government operations the two actually work together on a daily basis & don’t conflict.

        Departmental Lawyers are usually involved in decisions on any issue likely to be contentious to ensure there are no legal errors. That doesn’t mean Departmental lawyers get it right, of course. There’s plenty of cases every year where Judges determine they were wrong.

        I don’t recall whether any of the senior officials called as witnesses have referred to getting legal advice to inform their decisions, but I would be most surprised if they didn’t.

        The two most senior officials & their counsel have argued their case for inorming the respective Ministers under the No Surprises policy mandated in the Cabinet Office Manual. The Head of MSD needed to be informed, & I think has a reasonable case for briefing his Minister. Why he needed to go beyond seeking his own Chief Legal Advisor’s advice & keeping it in MSD I find a bit puzzling, but still, they’ve put a case to the judge which is not without reason or merit.

        Looking foward to details from the closing submissions. I’m thinking the judge’s decision will be a fascinating read.

        Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  13th November 2019

    Tolley’s admission is interesting. Expecting Peter’s team to raise it?
    Unclassified or otherwise it would at least have an in-confidence caveat .
    Makes you wonder what else is included in Pollies family gossip sessions?

    Breach of in-confidence material during my service would have brought discipline down.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  13th November 2019

      but,but….she was ‘cross and tired’!…Shipley’s ..believe it or….not’.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th November 2019

      Anne Tolley’s reputation has taken a bit of a hit – Minister told husband, sister about Peters’ super. Former National minister Anne Tolley told her husband and her sister about Winston Peters being overpaid superannuation after she was briefed by the head of the Ministry of Social Development.

      Absolutely. As I’ve said before, Tolley seems to have blabbed about Peters’ overpayment to several people, not just her hubby & sis. Any one of them could have leaked the information or gossipped to someone else who did. She has no way of knowing who may have said what to whom afterwards.

      She was utterly bound by the same Public Service confidentiality rules as every public servant provided with the information & as a Cabinet Minister of longstanding she knew this. She is a disgrace.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th November 2019

        Plus the ministerial staff of course . Was no surprises meant for their ears as well?
        Of course Ministers passing info to their trusted staff who then do the leaking directly is a time honoured way and would have happened here. [No evidence of who leaked has been reported, so don’t make claims as fact that you have no facts for. PG]

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  13th November 2019

          You mean no one in the witness box who heard about it under nebulous no surprises has admitted leaking to the journalists. They did say they told many others, even family. Why would the Ministerial staff be the only ones to keep it under their hat, even Soper , Reid and other journos knew. Gossip and tip offs is the currency of Parliament, far better than pay wave.
          Some one had to tell it wasnt found washed up in a bottle – reality of the politics and the people who know leading journalists well would be ministerial advisers.
          Its how how it works for all political parties and all issues, but mostly its just confidential info not protected by the Social Security Act.
          Nationals lawyers had to be reminded by the judge to get back to the privacy issue as of course they wanted to put ‘Peters on trial’. I wouldnt be at all surprised that , like the Eminem case, national has egg on its face over the facts of the law. And then it wont be a surprise for a lot of people say – “That was a surprise”.

          Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th November 2019

        No , its not the same public service confidentiality. Its the Social Security Act and its clauses protecting the privacy of beneficiaries thats the main point here.

        Do you think the IRD Commsioner speaks to 2 ministers and the PS hierarchy about the ‘surprising’ tax cases of Mps etc

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th November 2019

          I don’t think there’s any great difference. Even if the Social Security Act has specific provisions relating to protecting the privacy of information provided by individuals (& possibly other Acts have their own equivalents) the Privacy Act contains a blanket provision about personal information provided by individuals to departments being private & to be used ONLY by whom & for the purpose for which it was collected.

          While I accept that you consider yourself an authority on the matter, for the present I am more interested in seeing what the judge eventually has to say.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  13th November 2019

            Not an expert on these matters at all. Just able to winnow the chaff of the Public Service chiefs and National party Mps indroducing extraneous informations – even the judge said ‘Move along’
            These are experts …cough cough ..The Privacy Commissioner
            https://www.privacy.org.nz/assets/Files/Reports/Privacy-Commissioners-Inquiry-in-MSDs-Exercise-of-s.11-SSA-1964-and-Compliance-of-the-Code-of-Conduct-Final-Report.pdf
            This was done regarding Fraud Investigations but the Privacy principles are the same
            “4 The Code is treated as though it were a code of practice issued under Part 6 of the Privacy Act. Failure to comply with the Code, even if that failure does not otherwise breach any information privacy principles, is deemed to be a breach of the Privacy Act.”

            Of course you really do want Peters to put in the stocks no matter what the Judge says..its a formality. I will remind you when the judges decision is made, although it cant be a win for both sides and they have a history of taking things to appeal.
            The Wine Box Enquiry found against Peters claims, but he took it further and was vindicated as 2 Appeal Court judges said an ex Chief Justice got the tax law wrong and there was tax evasion not tax minimisation.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  13th November 2019

              There is an absolute right to privacy of information confidentially provided to government departments and Ministers. I am nowhere arguing that is not the case.

              Of course you really do want Peters to put in the stocks no matter what the Judge says..its a formality.

              I don’t like, or trust, Winston Peters. But, on occasion, for correctly calling a spade a spade, for his interest in boosting regional economies, & for his political longevity, & for his moderating influence on some bad policy ideas, I respect him.

              I have never leaked confidential personal information when working in the public service to anyone who did not need to know. For one thing you never knew who they might tell who shouldn’t know & it could have cost me my job. But in my last job the number of people who needed to know sometimes included the Legal Services, key managers, the HoD & the Minister.

              Peters’ private information & situation should never have got into the hands of journos or anyone but those in the chain who were told in confidence because it was an issue of potentially problematic sigbificance.

              If the leaker is ever identified & made to walk the plank I would have no sympathy whatsoever, & I hope they do get found out.

            • duperez

               /  13th November 2019

              I’m trying to work out who could have been in any chain who needed to be told in confidence (or in any way at all) past the direct manager of the underling handling it.

              I’m trying to work out what possibly could ‘potentially’ have been an issue of ‘problematic significance.’

              The Peters’ case should have been handled precisely the same as if exactly the same circumstances involved Josephine or Joe Bloggs, John or Jane Doe. Go through the details consider the case, communicate /clarify with the client and resolve, sign it off.

            • Gezza

               /  13th November 2019

              Fret no longer, dupers. The Judge will work out all that stuff for you & the decision (ma told me she heard on ZB today) will be announced sometime next year. Then there will likely be one or more appeals to clarify matters further should there be a perceived need for such by any of the parties affected.

            • duperez

               /  13th November 2019

              The judge may comment on Maarten Wevers’ opinion about ministers being briefed about Peters’ situation.

              Wevers contended that the fact the events happened in the heat of the 2017 election campaign was irrelevant yet said that the overpayment to Mr Peters and MSD’s response to it were important and likely to become controversial. Was the likelihood of controversy the same, higher or lower because of the election? Isn’t dismissing the relevance of the proximity to the election as easy as dismissing the significance of controversy? A matter of personal opinion and personal preference?

              Just because it is ‘Sir’ Maarten Wevers, with the fancy handle ‘Former Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’ and he says the right things like ‘chief executives are required to serve the government of the day in a politically neutral way” doesn’t mean what he says is gospel. It’s his opinion. He conflates Metiria Turei being investigated for beneficiary fraud as having some relevance to Peters’ situation and justification for the chance his private information to as it happened, be spread far and wide.

              My questions are about the ‘no surprises’ policy, not Peters being a rip-off artist, or some scumbag(s) who broke sworn confidentiality. While there are good reasons for the no surprises policy the Peters case shows when politics is involved politicians and those working for them can’t be trusted.

            • Gezza

               /  14th November 2019

              Yes, I have those same questions in my mind as well. Having worked in the public service for 34 years & been in situations similar where I was necessarily a part of the chain which handled the passing back & forth of cases where the Minister was briefed on the details of personal cases which were considered likely to go public with complaints.

              The briefings usually went to the Minister with the applicant’s file, with a file summary.

              All of them required judgement calls by the Senior Exec as to whether the Minister should be notified, and all of them were discussed with the CLO (a senior exec himself) first. This was because when complainants went public with criticism of the Minister’s Department & the Minister was grilled by reporters – the Minister demanded details, & would sometimes criticise the HoD pubkicly if they learned such a discussion had been had & the Minister was not informed. You’ve seen some of that shit with that Ukraian kickboxer.

              So local managers get nervous as hell & try to cover their butts by consulting HQ under their risk management processes. It’s called managing reputational risk.

              This case involved Winston Peters. A politician with a known history of going on the attack when unhappy with government departments or any suggestion from anywhere that he has made a mistake or done something wrong.

              In my experience it would be perfectly understandable that something happening that was potentially contentious involving this loose cannon would be referred to HQ for safety’s sake.

              Whether it needed to go to the SSC will be up to the judge. I personally don’t see why it needed to – but I can understand the argument that because this case involved a famous (or infamous) NZ politician – it would be wise to ho right to the top manager of the Public Service to double check. But I personally think Hughes has a weak case for also briefing Bennett as State Services Minister.

              Everybody commenting on this case has a view they know what the answer is. I have a view, based on experience, that it is not a simple black & white situation & that the appropriate person to rule on whether the process followed, after weighing ALL the testimony (we know only the reporters’ juicy bits – summaries) & viewing the relevant files & documentation. is a judge.

            • Gezza

               /  14th November 2019

              *whether the process followed … was correct is a judge.

              The answer will be provided by the referee, it seems, early next year. Annoying that we have to wait, but there it is. We just have to wait.

              I have views as to where the leak may possibly have come from but as they amount to speculation with no hard evidence I see no point in making unsupported accusations or insinuationshere.

  5. Ray

     /  13th November 2019

    “Perhaps the dog ate the evidence ”
    Excellent, best summing up of Winston Peters political life I have seen.

    Reply
  6. duperez

     /  13th November 2019

    The crowd loves a circus and so does the ringmaster. In the hubbub however do important things get overlooked?

    If a leading member of the Opposition gets a speeding ticket or a DUI does the information get passed up the chain and end with the Commissioner of Police going to see the Minister of Police to inform them under the ‘no surprises’ policy? And other ministers are called in?

    A leading member of the Opposition with a health condition ends up with a little conflab with officials in the office of the Minister of Health?

    Maybe in joining in the circus elements of the Peters’ case we are doing just what we’re lamenting the media is doing with its prurient, over-the-top coverage of the Millane tragedy. Of course their response to criticism of their efforts would be, “it’s what the public wants.”

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th November 2019

      No. “It’s what the public wants” is what the editors’ & journos’ say at their private meetings.

      “It’s in the public interest”, “the public has a right to know”, and “the press has a responsibility question & to hold those in public office to account” are their usual choices for public comment in a situation like this.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th November 2019

        Therese nothing wrong with the media publicising things about Peters – once they know about them.
        That ‘right to know’ doesnt apply to Paula Bennetts time on the DPB- as the media letters from her lawyers threatening court action if they publicise claims.
        https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/retired-judge-warns-public-after-paula-bennett-threatens-lawsuit-over-online-post

        This is as close as they got,
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/94627131/one-lied-one-says-she-never-did-the-untold-backstories-of-political-leaders-paula-bennett-and-metiria-turei

        Paulas claim is the same as Peters- She didnt ‘deliberately lie’- as said in the stuff story.
        Its a bit hard to write a full story , unlike Peters where too many people talked , for PB “Some people we approached said they’d been asked not to talk to the media.”

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th November 2019

          Can you point me to where I said there was something wrong with media publicising the leak about Peters?

          Although in this case that point is moot because he publicised it.

          The Bennett stuff is whataboutery & so doesn’t personally interest me in this case.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  13th November 2019

            You danced around the fire talking right to know and public interest.
            But I never said you were wrong etc.. I just replied to your points with some of my own.
            Bennett and Turei were the background story to Peters benefit …because they were ‘Metoo.’ The past matters as much as the future – now thats something you are wrong about.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th November 2019

              The reason for Paula Bennett threatening legal action was that these were unsubstantiated and false stories.

              Metiria Turei was blatant about lying and cheating to get extra money to which she was not entitled.

              Paula Bennett’s statement that she never deliberately lied was spitefully distorted by those who emphasised the word ‘deliberately’, even putting it in quotes in print. As a lie is by definition deliberate, this was nonsensical. What she said was that SHE had never deliberately lied to WINZ as Metiria Turei had. The emphasis was on the pronoun, not the adverb.

            • duperez

               /  13th November 2019

              How relevant is the emphasis being on the pronoun not the adverb? Bennett said that SHE had never deliberately lied (as compared to someone else). Saying she hadn’t lied or hadn’t deliberately lied means she SAID she hadn’t lied or hadn’t deliberately lied. That doesn’t mean she didn’t lie, just that she said she didn’t.

            • Blazer

               /  13th November 2019

              @Duperez…I think her words were she never ..’deliberately mislead Social Welfare.
              Horrible creature.

          • Gezza

             /  13th November 2019

            You danced around the fire talking right to know and public interest.
            No I didn’t dance around some blimmin fire. Another hopeless wannabe mind-reader. You might be the kind of person who has some angle or slant in mind with every comment you make but don’t just assume my mind works the same way yours does. I simply said what I said, with no other intent & a slight smile as those are all commonly heard from the Press.

            Bennett and Turei were the background story to Peters benefit …because they were ‘Metoo.’ The past matters as much as the future – now thats something you are wrong about.
            I dunno where the Bennett shut down came up. I read that the Turei crash & burn situation was cited as a justification for sending details of the Peters case up the chain under No Surprises. Had there been no leak there would likely have been no problem with this happening. Whether or not the issue was of such potentially explosive significance it needed to be checked with the State Services Commissioner & the Minister for State Services briefed are matters which are arguable &, thus, as I say, I await the Court’s decision with great interest.

            I must say, as a politician who has been living off the public trough for the best part of his existence, with his gold card campaigning & voter army of superannuitants, for Peters (or his partner) not to have found out what the single rate of government superannuation was before applying for it beggars belief.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  13th November 2019

              read what I said , instead of making claims that I said stuff about you I didnt.
              Bennetts back story might be in the public interest, but her lawyers have sent letters of warning over ‘need to know’ on her background.
              As a offshoot Bridges did the same over some his… cough cough… ‘fundraising methods’.
              Not that the rich and powerful dont use the legal system against the media to its fullest when its their lives that become ‘public interest’

            • Gezza

               /  13th November 2019

              *not to have found out what the partnered rate of government superannuation was before applying for it – I should have said, but I think readers will get my point.

            • Gezza

               /  13th November 2019

              Do you mind not interrupting me like that when I’m making a minor correction to a comment I’ve just posted please.

              I’m just ignoring the whatabouteries. Do you think they will feature in the Judge’s decision?

            • Gezza

               /  13th November 2019

              Went down to lunch at ma’s & we discussed the Peters case after I mentioned it was being discussed here. She said that with the massive amount of income Peters probably gets by now from all kinds of savings & investments, plus his Parliamentary salaries over the years, it’s quite possible that he really didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to what amount he was getting paid for super & whether it was the single or partnered rate.

              That he most likely has an accountant that looks after all his money. But that surely his accountant would’ve picked this up & queried it with him – it would be a new income stream & the super payment would’ve affected his tax rate. She’s 92, worked as an accounts receivable clerk for donkey’s years, & is still sharp as a knife. Good point, I told her.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th November 2019

              It would be absurd to involve those at the top over a speeding ticket or even a DIC. A one-off misdemeanour isn’t the same as making false claims for many years.

            • Duker

               /  13th November 2019

              When Peters applied in 2010 he wasnt an Mp, so not getting that salary at that time . He was an Mp again from late 2011 though.
              As for accountant , lots of people dont have an accountant to handle every transaction , just the yearly tax things.
              When I was doing small business stuff , I had a software program which sorted all the transactions directly from the bank account and came up with monthly GST and other details for me to work with . Once a year the software sent it all to accountant.
              Others I knew passed every invoice to an accountant to handle and trembled at getting some paint they used for the house passed off as a business cost ( they used paint for their business as well.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th November 2019

              The more fools they for risking it; the amount they gained wouldn’t be worth the consequences had they been found out in this petty fraud.

  7. Duker

     /  13th November 2019

    Reading some of the lawyers summations , it seems they claim Peters hasnt sued under the legal provisions of the Privacy Act and related Social Security Act privacy provisions, but under the ‘Tort of privacy’ . That could be called the Mike Hosking ‘Tort’ and he took it to appeal to win that one.
    Nationals lawyers covering their backsides and also saying any money judgement shouldnt be very large ! ( Shades of Eminem)
    Interesting to see what Peters lawyer says about it , but of course the Department heads and officials are still bound by the Act even if they arent sued under it. Interesting legal conundrum , but then thats what Judges are for.
    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/11/13/908253/peters-case-the-dog-that-didnt-bark

    Reply
  8. Gerrit

     /  13th November 2019

    Well it is official now. Bennett and Tolley did not “leak” the Peters information.

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/11/13/909071/peters-accepts-national-ministers-didnt-leak#

    One can wonder if Bennett and Tolley were going to counter claim, that their reputations were tarnished, if Peters had not back tracked and admitted they had not made any contribution to the “leak”.

    They still might I guess and drag Peters sorry frame through the courts again.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  13th November 2019

      Tolley has already revealed she broke protocol by sharing the information with family because she was …’cross and tired’.
      Bennett has form already.
      2 former fatties both suspect.

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  14th November 2019

        Bitter bile much, coming up from the bottom of the stomach, there Blazing Squirrel?

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s