MSD, DIA say no Super leak from them

Following an Inland Revenue investigation that found no evidence of a leak of Winston Peter’s super over payment – see  Inland Revenue “could not have been the source” of Super leak – both the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Internal Affairs also found no evidence of a leak from their departments.

Ministry of Social Development releases investigation finding:

MSD on Winston Peters super leak investigation

Following information regarding Mr Winston Peter’s Superannuation payments entering the public arena, the Ministry launched an investigation to assess whether there was any indication that a Ministry employee may have been the source of the information.

That process is now complete, and we can confirm that all staff that had access to the relevant information had a reasonable business purpose for accessing it, and there is no evidence that this information was passed to a third party.

The Ministry holds a great deal of very personal information about people and their families that New Zealanders trust us to safeguard.

Both data searches and staff interviews were employed in this investigation.
If further information relating to this matter comes to light, MSD will make further investigations as necessary.

 

DIA statement: Privacy investigation complete

Department of Internal Affairs investigation into Peters leak

We investigated whether any Ministerial Services staff received or passed on information regarding the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters’ superannuation matter.

The investigation process included a search of digital records and a series of interviews with Ministerial Services staff. It found that five Ministerial Services employees had received the information before it was reported by media.

There was no evidence that the information was provided to media or third parties by these staff members.

The Department takes privacy seriously, and upholding the confidentiality of information forms part of the Code of Conduct all employees sign.

If further information comes to light, the Department will undertake further inquiries as necessary.

Peters claims he was alerted to the leak before it happened by a ‘very senior National Party person’ but no details or names have been given.

Details and timeline at RNZ: Third probe fails to find leaker of Peters’ super info

Slater implications on Peters Super leak

Cameron Slater continues to make vague accusations and implications about who leaked information about Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayments, claiming to know who leaked but also saying he is unable to say who it was. Given his changing claims in reaction to news it sounds most likely to be bluster and bull.

But yesterday Slater went further with another implication, this time of his source of information.

He posted So, if it wasn’t IRD then who was the leaker

If not IRD then who?

I’ll bet MSD has the same result. That then leaves Anne Tolley, Paula Bennett, Wayne Eagleson and several staffers on the hook. If it wasn’t the civil servants then it has to be one of that lot.

That sounds like spraying around accusations without having any idea who leaked.

It isn’t that anonymous…everyone knows who did it.

If ‘everyone’ includes Slater, if he knows who did it, why is he spreading the mud around so much?

They might be able to hide behind the OIA but they won’t be able to hide behind court discovery. National are just being cute. They leaked it and that will come out. If it wasn’t IRD or MSD then it can only be ministers or ministerial staff.

Back to vague again.

As is happening more often at Whale Oil, Slater was challenged on this in comments.

WhaleOilIRDLeak

So Slater has made vague insinuations against a number of people, claims ‘everyone knows’ who did it, and then says “you don’t know what I know’.

That all sounds very lame.

Not so lame is the implication by Slater that a source of information for him on the leak is Winston Peters’ lawyer, who also represented Slater in his defamation case against Colin Craig.

Slater has often claimed to be hard up, has often asked on Whale Oil for donations to help him pay for legal expenses, has often said how expensive defamation cases are…but that’s another story.

Slater has also been pimping for Peters and for NZ First for months, and has been throwing mud at the National and Bill English and various National Ministers and MPs…but that’s largely another story too.

What is of particular interest here is that Slater has implied that Peters’ lawyer may be providing Slater “what I know” about the Super leak.

Stuff on August 28: Winston Peters has investigators working on who leaked info about his pension overpayment

NZ First leader Winston Peters says he won’t stand by and let someone get away with “blatant dirty politics” after information about his superannuation overpayment was leaked.

“Someone decided they would break the law and leak it in a political way and some of those tweets and other comments point to knowledge out there that it was malicious and politically dirty,” Peters told media following a candidates meeting in Northland on Monday night.

Peters said he had investigators working on uncovering the leak and would let the public know who it was – “I’ve got my deep suspicions”.

Peters had also implied that a number of culprits were responsible for the leak, starting with IRD according to RNZ but that has now been ruled out.

There is no indication here that Peters’ lawyer is involved in the investigation. I think it would be extraordinary that he would give details to Slater at all, and especially knowing how loose with his fingers Slater is on Whale Oil.

Would Peters himself pass on information to Slater? I think that’s doubtful too.

Peters has a history of spraying around accusations, claiming to know who is responsible for things, claiming to have facts, but often failing to front up with any evidence.

In that regard Slater is very much the same. I don’t think his implication to fact ratio is very high. He is high on dirt and innuendo, and low on credibility.

I doubt that any lawyer will appreciate being name dropped by Slater trying to sound credible.

I think it’s most likely that Slater is guessing, he has no real idea who leaked, but he is trying to sound like he’s in the know to defend his accusations to readers who challenge him on “making accusations here based on nothing substantive”.

If the leaker is revealed then both Peters and Slater will probably claim to have been right – given the number of accusation’s they make the chances are one of their targets could be close to the mark.

 

Inland Revenue “could not have been the source” of Super leak

Inland Revenue says that the leak of Winston Peters’ super overpayment can’t have come from them because they never had the information.

Peters was reported by RNZ as saying “he believed Inland Revenue was to blame for the privacy breach”:  Investigations over pension leak as Peters plans complaint

Mr Peters has confirmed his fortnightly pension had been overpaid for several years and when he was notified in July he repaid it within 24 hours. He has not disclosed the sum but said it was less than the $18,000 reported in some media.

Both the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Inland Revenue (IRD) are trying to find the source of the leak and Mr Peters plans to lay a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner.

Mr Peters has told RNZ that he believed Inland Revenue was to blame for the privacy breach. Pension entitlements are calculated by Work and Income but payments are administered by the IRD.

Peters went on to blame MSD and the National Party, but Inland Revenue went ahead with an investigation. They have now reported on that.

IR completes investigation into leak allegation

Following information regarding Mr Winston Peters’ National Superannuation payments entering the public arena, Inland Revenue (IR) carried out an investigation to determine whether an IR staff member was the source of the information. The allegation that Inland Revenue had been the source of the information had been made and subsequently withdrawn by a journalist while interviewing Mr Peters.

New Zealanders trust IR with their personal financial information. It is essential that we can assure New Zealanders their personal information is respected and protected at all times.

Our investigation has found that IR does not hold the information that became public in relation to Mr Peters’ National Superannuation payments, and therefore could not have been the source.

If further information relating to this matter comes to light, IR will make further investigations as necessary.

 

Changing accusations on who leaked Peters Super overpayment

There has been a slew of accusations about who leaked information about the superannuation overpayment of Winston Peters.

Peters initially blamed the IRD. Then he moved to MSD, Bill English, Anne Tolley, Paula Bennett and public servants. By yesterday he was calling for mass resignations.

Stuff: Winston Peters calls for heads to roll over superannuation overpayment leak

Winston Peters wants heads to roll over his superannuation overpayment being leaked, including Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and State Services Minister Paula Bennett.

The NZ First leader told media following a finance debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night that those who have said they knew about his overpayment have “breached the privacy laws”.

When asked if Tolley, Bennett, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes and Prime Minister Bill English’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, should all lose their jobs, Peters said “of course they should”.

“They’re all in breach of the privacy laws of this country and there has to be consequences – they have just been so badly caught out,” he said.

Peters has never resigned over breaches of privacy but he has different rules for himself.

Also yesterday: Shane Jones takes aim at social development boss: ‘Writing’s on the wall’

NZ First candidate Shane Jones has launched a scathing attack on a senior civil servant, who he has accused of being at the centre of politically-motivated leaks in two separate elections.

Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle has confirmed he briefed his minister Anne Tolley that the department had settled a matter with NZ First leader Winston Peters’ on the overpayment of his pension.

“The man is no stranger to breaches of privacy. He was in charge of the internal affairs department when in the midst of the 2008 election there was a massive dump of documents.

“It was a file of a matter I dealt with, pertaining to Bill Liu – right in the middle of an election.

“Now the man is in the middle of a major privacy breach in this election,” Jones said.

Risky for Jones to bring up Bill Liu.

It emerged just before the 2008 election, then Labour Immigration Minister Jones granted the controversial Chinese businessman New Zealand citizenship despite an Interpol warning.

And it seems that after being distanced from National Cameron Slater has shifted his dirty politics to trying to help Peters and NZ First.

Like Peters his accusations have evolved, suggesting they are dirty speculations.

He originally thought the big revelation was something else.

Then when the Super  story broke he accused Anne Tolley. He has since piled into Bill English and his staff, also Steven Joyce.

And apparently he has now blamed someone ‘very close to Paula Bennett’.

If the leaker is revealed both he and peters will probably claim to have been right – if they accuse enough people their odds must be good.

It has long been a tactic of both Peters and Slater of making public accusations without any evidence, it seems to be aimed at trying to flush out a culprit.

Dirty politics from both of them. It was dirty to leak the information but whoever leaked is just wrestling in mud with political pigs.

Peters pursuing Super leaker

Winston Peters is trying to find out who leaked the information about him being overpaid superannuation for a number of years.

There is some irony in the king of leak-mongers getting so upset over a leak but Peters as some justification for being grumpy.

There has been a lot of speculation about who leaked and who was responsible for circulating the leak to media. Inevitably ‘dirty politics’ has been suggested.

On Monday morning in an interview with RNZ Peters, referring to a conversation with Newshub’s Lloyd Burr, said “he did drop, what I did know or did suspect but he dropped it, the informant was IRD”.

Newshub now report:  Anne Tolley given heads up over Winston Peters’ pension overpayment

Newshub can reveal Social Development Minister Anne Tolley was given an early heads up about Winston Peters being overpaid superannuation.

Mr Peters met with the Ministry of Social Development on July 15 – one month later, on August 15, Ms Tolley was alerted under the No Surprises Act.

Newshub received an anonymous phone call just three days later on August 18. Ms Tolley says the leak did not come from her office.

So it took over a week for the story to come out.

Now the New Zealand First Leader is on the warpath, sending out investigators to try and find the source who leaked he was overpaid superannuation.

Stuff:  Winston Peters has investigators working on who leaked info about his pension overpayment

NZ First leader Winston Peters says he won’t stand by and let someone get away with “blatant dirty politics” after information about his superannuation overpayment was leaked.

“Someone decided they would break the law and leak it in a political way and some of those tweets and other comments point to knowledge out there that it was malicious and politically dirty,” Peters told media following a candidates meeting in Northland on Monday night.

“I’ve been flat out, as you know, on the campaign of issues and when I’ve got time I’ll turn my mind to it, but I’m not going to stand by and let someone get away with blatant dirty politics and breaking the law.”

Peters said he had investigators working on uncovering the leak and would let the public know who it was – “I’ve got my deep suspicions”.

He has a right to try to find out who breached his privacy.

But again, it’s highly ironic that Peters is so affronted by being embarrassed by a leak, when he has so often used leaks and even hints of leaks to embarrass political opponents.

He knows how to play dirty politics as well as anyone.

Peters seemed very flustered in interviews when this story broke, and it is highly embarrassing for him, so it seems very unlikely he would have ‘leaked’ this story himself to try to get some media attention and some voter sympathy.

But when politics gets dirty nothing should be ruled out.

Trump’s obsession with himself

Another leak, this time of transcripts of President Trumps conversations with Australian and Mexican leaders early this year, have shown again how obsessed with himself and his image that Trump is.

He said “I am the world’s greatest person” to Malcolm Turnbull in January.

And recent reports show how he seems to have trouble understanding the difference between leading a company, where the boss can dictate what he likes, compared to the complexities of the US system of government.

Reuters:  Trump, frustrated by Afghan war, suggests firing U.S. commander: officials

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called “the end-state” in a country where the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.

The meeting grew stormy when Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.

“We aren’t winning,” he told them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some officials left the meeting “stunned” by the president’s vehement complaints that the military was allowing the United States to lose the war.

Trump seems to have a habit of firing if he isn’t ‘winning’.

CNN: Trump’s Russia statement proves he doesn’t understand separation of powers

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill that the Republican-led Congress had approved overwhelmingly. But he made sure everyone knew he wasn’t happy about it — and in so doing revealed, again, that he has either little understanding of or little care for the separation of powers built into the US government.

What makes Trump’s derision of the division of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches different is both how brazen he is about it and how many times he has expressed sentiments in his first six-plus months in office that suggest he simply doesn’t understand the fact that everyone in the government doesn’t work for him.

And the latest leaks from Washington Post: The Post’s latest bombshell 

Produced by White House staff, the documents provide an unfiltered glimpse of Trump’s approach to the diplomatic aspect of his job, subjecting even a close neighbor and long-standing ally to streams of threats and invective as if aimed at U.S. adversaries.

With Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

The Jan. 28 call with Turnbull became particularly acrimonious. “I have had it,” Trump erupted after the two argued about an agreement on refugees. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

Before ending the call, Trump noted that at least one of his conversations that day had gone far more smoothly. “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. “This is ridiculous.” … “This is going to kill me,” he said to Turnbull. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”

With Mexican President Peña Nieto:

“On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Trump said. “My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”

Trump seemed to acknowledge that his threats to make Mexico pay had left him cornered politically. “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to,” he said. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.” …

Peña Nieto resisted, saying that Trump’s repeated threats had placed “a very big mark on our back, Mr. President.” He warned that “my position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall.”

Trump objected: “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo: Why the leaked presidential transcripts are so frightening

It is shocking to see presidential conversations released in this way. Some in the executive branch, as Anthony Scaramucci aptly put it, are intent on protecting the country from Trump. This is a good thing, by the way. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has obviously failed to plug the flood leaks.

These transcripts may have been leaked before Kelly took over.

Trump is frighteningly obsessed with himself and his image to such an extent that he cannot fulfill the role of commander in chief. He cannot frame logical arguments based on public policy, and therefore comes across as, well, a fool to foreign leaders.

His desire to maintain his own image suggests he’d be more than willing to make the country’s interests subordinate to his own need for personal affirmations.

Trump’s narcissism leaves him open to flattery and threats (to reveal embarrassing material, for example). That’s the worry in the Russia investigation — namely, that Vladimir Putin has “something” on Trump, which compels Trump to act in ways inimical to U.S. interests.

Trump’s interests are paramount, so a cagey adversary can easily manipulate him.

There is no easy solution.

One cannot be impeached and removed for being an embarrassment to the United States or an egomaniac temperamentally unfit for the job (that was the argument for not electing him). Unless he really goes off the deep end, invoking the 25th Amendment is not a realistic option.

That leaves members of Congress and his administration with a few options.

And Trump keeps blaming everyone else. He recently tweeted:

But he can’t fire Congress, nor the Senate. He is stuck with the political and judicial system that the US has got. And the US is probably stuck with him until he throws a major hissy fit for not getting his own way and chucks the job in.

In the meantime it is likely that Russia, China, North Korea, and much of the Middle East will be trying to work out how they can exploit Trump’s ego.

With the amount of fire power available to lash out with this has to be a major concern.

One slightly reassuring thing – Trump seems to be relying more on generals to run his administration. They may be the best chance of keeping his flaws in check.

NZ First accused of leaking UMR poll

Winston Peters has generally trashed polls as fake and meaningless, but it looks like when they suit his purposes he isn’t averse to leaking them.

Two months ago from RNZ:  Peters calls polls fake, claims he’ll win 20% of vote

RNZ’s most recent poll-of-polls had New Zealand First sitting at 8.7 percent.

But Mr Peters said the media’s polls were fake – and his own polling put his party’s support far higher – closer to 20 percent.

“I’ve got the statistical evidence to prove it, I don’t know why the media carry on with their mindset and keep on boring people witless with scenarios that are not going to happen.”

I don’t think he produced any evidence, which isn’t unusual for him.

A week ago on RNZ:  Winston Peters says polls giving him 10% are fake

New Zealand First leader says media polls giving him 10 percent are fake and he’s going to get 20% in the election.

A Colmar Brunton poll had just been published with NZ First on 11%, up 2.

Then last Friday from Newshub:  Labour’s confidential polling leaked:

Newshub has been leaked poll results from the company that does Labour’s internal polling which show it is in big trouble, two-and-a-half months out from the election.

The results show Labour is on 26 percent support – crashing from 34 percent in May.

And New Zealand First, for the first time in three years of polling, is no longer the lowest rating party.

Winston Peters and co are on 14 percent – up 5 percent since May – just overtaking the Greens who are on 13 percent.

Peters didn’t slam this poll as fake.

The company, UMR, does the polling for Labour’s inner sanctum and the results are normally kept secret from the public.

Earlier in the year Little went public with a UMR poll that wasn’t as bad as usual for Labour.

Tonight the Labour Party and UMR said the results had not yet been released to the Labour Party and the leak must have come from a corporate client who had already been provided the results.

Today: Andrew Little accuses Winston Peters of leaking poll that made Labour look bad

Andrew Little is accusing Winston Peters of leaking poll results that are damaging to the Labour Party.

“Whenever you see something that’s reported as a leak, you look at who talks about it the most,” he told Newshub.

“I’m pretty sure NZ First has UMR as a pollster, so I think the leak – in inverted commas – is more likely from New Zealand First than anybody.”

This seems to have been confirmed by Duncan Garner.

Peters didn’t deny it, he avoided ‘reacting’.

“I’ve got no reaction to that. I couldn’t give a rat’s derriere what he says,” the NZ First leader told The AM Show on Monday. He wouldn’t reveal if NZ First used UMR for its polling.

“We don’t divulge who we talk to on the issue of polling… That’s not information you’re privy to… It’s none of your business.”

Mr Peters has been talking up the poll regardless, suggesting he’ll soon have the right to call himself leader of the Opposition.

“If [Labour] go from 26 down to 22, that’s it. Andrew is not in Parliament,” Mr Peters told The Nation on Saturday. “So why would you make these statements, that he’s the next leader of the country? Or the leader of the Opposition?”

It’s not unusual for politicians to trash polls and news they don’t like and then hypocritically promote what suits their purposes.

But UMR is just one poll, a Roy Morgan poll also published last week had NZ First on 8%. Peters would probably call that fake.

Peters has usually been staunch in not predicting election outcomes. On the Nation on Saturday:

Look, you know, one thing is very important in life, and that’s this – don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

But in another break from Peters tradition, in his speech to the NZ First congress on Sunday he closed with:

“So spread the word. This time, in our 24th year, we are going to transform the electoral system and we will be most definitely the Government.”

However he hasn’t produced a poll that backs that up yet.

Dirty local body politics?

A story of ‘political skulduggery’ in Marlborough from Stuff: Marlborough councillors brand Whale Oil leak ‘despicable’

Political skulduggery has again rocked the council chamber in Marlborough as lawyers are called in to investigate a secret recording of a committee meeting leaked to a right-wing blog. 

The leak to Whale Oil could see heads roll at the council, as councillors who attended the meeting are made to front up on Monday.

A recording of a tense behind closed doors discussion about the cash-strapped ASB Theatre was published on the blog site on Friday.

Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign. 

The committee meeting took place in April. 

Councillor Peter Jerram said the leak was “absolutely orchestrated” and smacked of “dirty politics” emerging in Marlborough. 

“Party politics are definitely involved. But worse than that, it’s gutter politics.” 

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the post was a clear attack on mayoral frontrunner Leggett, after a “very successful” attack on Sowman himself. 

Whale Oil involved in local body politics in Marlborough might seem a bit odd, they don’t usually do much about the provinces and most will have no idea who the current mayor of Marlborough is and who the candidates are.

But Whale Oil has had a number of posts on Marlborough local body politics over the last few months. Why? The Stuff article has a hint.

Political strategist Simon Lusk, who has links to Whale Oil, spoke at a local government seminar in Marlborough earlier this year attended by several council candidates. 

Lusk said at the time fighting for transparency was meaningless unless candidates opposed bad news being hidden in publicly excluded council meetings.

Lusk did not confirm or deny whether he was involved when contacted on Saturday. 

He was told information had come through on the blog’s tip line, he said. 

Why Lusk or Whale Oil might have such an interest in Marlborough local body politics is anyone’s guess.

There’s an unusual number of posts on Marlborough issues at Whale Oil going back to about June. No other regions have had this much attention so they stood out.

I never took much notice of the Marlborough posts apart from noticing they were there, they seemed local and not very interesting.

But what we have now is a story of wider interest:

  • a secret recording of a closed Marlborough District Council meeting in April
  • details of the recording published on Whale Oil in September, on the day that local body election voting papers are sent out
  • council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign

Being asked to resign three weeks before the election closes might be horse bolted timing.

What if the leaker is a candidate for the election? Their name is already printed on the ballot and posted to voters, but it could affect votes.

The Marlborough Express (Stuff) has followed up with Marlborough council announces investigation into Whale Oil leak ahead of final meeting

A secret recording of a private council meeting has triggered an investigation into all councillors and staff who were at the meeting. 

The investigation will require everyone at the behind closed doors discussion in Marlborough to sign a statutory declaration saying they were not behind the recording or it being leaked to a right-wing blog. 

It is a criminal offence to knowingly make a false declaration.

They are taking it very seriously.

Meanwhile Whale Oil had a string of posts on it yesterday too.

As predicted yesterday the Marlborough Express has written an attack piece on me. They didn’t even call for comment.

After we busted John Leggett and the Marlborough Express tried to ignore the story there still remain a number of unanswered questions that I am sure the ratepayers of Marlborough wants answers to.

The Marlbourgh Express doesn’t seem to know the first rule of politics. Explaining is losing.

That’s funny considering the number of posts explaining everything.

Locals don’t dare speak out because their lives will be made hell.  Local news doesn’t dare speak up because their commercial viability is under threat if they speak up against their biggest advertisers.

More explaining. They could be important issues for people in Marlborough, but that’s local stuff that most people are unlikely to be interested in.

So they act like they are violated, scream “Whaleoil” and hope that voters will forget what it is really all about.

What an utter waste of rate payers’ money to try and figure out who helped the truth get to the public.

Stop screaming my name, and start taking responsibility for your own words and actions.

That’s more interesting, to me anyway.

A secret recording was taken of a closed door council meeting and supplied to a media outlet and published during an election campaign.

The recording is a serious matter. If it was a councillor they could be asked to resign. If it was a staff member  I expect it would potentially be a sackable offence.

But Cameron Slater and Whale Oil don’t think that how the information was obtained matters, or is excusable as the story they want to tell is what is important.

Nicky Hager thought something similar when he published Dirty Politics.

Another thing that puzzles me about this – how much influence would Whale Oil have on the Marlborough election?

Most people are barely or not interested in local body elections. Most Marlborough voters are unlikely to read Whale Oil.

I’m baffled as to why Whale Oil is giving so much coverage over several months for a relatively low interest issue that can hardly be attracting many clicks or much advertising to the blog.

It will be interesting to see whether Whale Oil sees their whistle blowing coverage of sufficient importance and interest to continue their coverage after the election.

Ombudsman on MFAT leak inquiry

The Ombudsman has been scathing of an inquiry into leaks from MFAT and how the Government handled things, which seriously compromised the careers of MFAT employees.

Stuff: Damning inquiry points finger at the Government, State Services Commissioner

Ombudsman Ron Paterson has told the Government it should compensate a former top diplomat whose career ended in tatters after he was targeted by the inquiry, which was instigated by the State Services Commission.

He has also recommended a formal apology.

The 2013 inquiry has already cost taxpayers as much as $1 million, including lawyers costs and fees paid to the woman who headed it, Paula Rebstock.

The 2013 inquiry headed resulted in senior diplomats Derek Leask and Nigel Fyfe  being singled out , despite evidence the leaks that sparked it originated from within the State Services Commission itself. The person responsible cannot be identified because of suppression orders.

While they were not named in the State Services Commission-ordered inquiry, Leask and Fyfe were easily identifiable and their conduct was publicly  criticised by the State Services Commissioner and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully after personal emails were published revealing their opposition to restructuring of the ministry.

Paterson says the SSC acted unreasonably during the inquiry  and pointed out flaws including:

* the findings in relation to Leask exceeded the inquiry’s terms of reference.

* Leask was not given fair notice prior to his interview that his conduct would be examined.

* Insufficient material was provided him about the applicable standards against which his behaviour was being measured

* He was not treated fairly.

* The evidence relied upon by the inquiry did not reasonably support some of the criticisms made about him in the final report and some highly relevant evidence was not properly addressed

* The manner in which Leaks’s actions were addressed in the final report was disproportionate when compared with the comments about the actions of other senior MFAT managers.

* Publication of the report, in a manner that identified him and contained unfair criticisms of him, was unjust

* State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie’s public statement about Leask was unreasonable.

Paterson recommends Leask receive compensation for harm to his reputation caused by the deficiencies in the inquiry and publication of the report.

This has raised serious questions.

Stuff: Top diplomat: Serious questions to be answered about the government’s misuse of power

Neil Walter, a former top diplomat, says serious questions are raised by the Ombudsman’s report into flawed government inquiry.

In the view of three Queen’s Counsel, the investigation team’s report was riddled with errors of fact and contained a number of accusations that had little connection with either the inquiry’s terms of reference or the evidence produced.

The Privacy Commissioner has separately ruled that Rennie breached the Privacy Act.

I expect more questions will be asked about all this. Serious questions need answers and appropriate remedies.

I think one thing in particular that needs to be addressed is the apparent propensity of the current Government to attack and discredit public servants and others to protect themselves, to divert from serious issues or to discredit arguments or evidence that is inconvenient to them.

Twyford versus Bennett/English

In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Phil Twyford asked questions about Paula Bennett, making a number of allegations and insinuations. Bill English responded on behalf of Bennett who was not in Parliament.


[Sitting date: 16 June 2016. Volume:715;Page:8. Text is subject to correction.]

7. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister for Social Housing: Does she stand by all her statements?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Minister for Social Housing: Yes, within the context in which they were given.

Phil Twyford: What was her motivation for briefing her staff on the police investigation into Hurimoana Dennis?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Her motivation was that the staff should know what the Minister had been discussing, and the matter moved on from there.

Phil Twyford: Are the media reports correct that the three to four staff she said that she briefed on the police investigation included Lucy Bennett, Clark Hennessy, and her senior political adviser, Belinda Milnes?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think those people are among her staff; that is likely. But, of course, Ministers are not constrained by any particular rules about briefing their staff, and that is because staff are a pretty important part of getting a lot of things done.

Phil Twyford: Was she surprised, given her reputation for leaking information about her critics, that her staff took the same approach with the information that she gave them about the police investigation?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I refute the statements made by the member. I am surprised to see the Labour Party members outraged by what they call a leak to the media, which turns out to be discussion around the dinner table about something apparently everyone already knew about but that the media had decided not to run until they could use it to attack Paula Bennett.

Phil Twyford: Why, after the Human Rights Commission told her that she had breached Natasha Fuller’s privacy by releasing her private information, did she say she might do it again, and “it would depend on the circumstances”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The two events are not connected in any way—[Interruption] Well, in this case, apparently, as I am advised, the person concerned told the Minister himself, and I am told that “everyone knew”.

Phil Twyford: Are the journalists correct who tell me that her office regularly releases this sort of information to discredit critics and shut down stories; if not, why does she believe they would make that up?

Mr SPEAKER: Either of those two supplementary questions—the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, those journalists are—well, I do not know exactly what they said to the member, because I would not want to rely on his description of it, but I think that if the member was familiar with how this story apparently became a story, it was a matter of about third-hand gossip, through a series of social events, that ended up as a story. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Mr Twyford and Mr English, the series of questions has now concluded. I am calling Tracey Martin. [Interruption] Order! Would both members, please—if they want to carry on the interchange, I suggest that they try it in the lobby.


“…releases this sort of information to discredit” is an interesting comment from Twyford.