‘Serious misconduct’ alleged, security firm investigation widens

Concerns over the use of security firm Thompson and Clark by Government departments has escalated into an SIS investigation  after claims of serious misconduct at the at the Ministry for Primary Industries.

RNZ:  Thompson and Clark used SIS contact to seek govt contracts

The Security Intelligence Service has launched an internal investigation into concerns of biased and unprofessional dealings with controversial security firm Thompson and Clark.

The announcement of the investigation comes on the same day the State Services Commissioner widened his inquiry into the use of Thompson and Clark to cover all government agencies, with Commissioner Peter Hughes saying there is evidence of serious staff misconduct at the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Emails from an unnamed SIS staff member to either Gavin Clark or Nick Thompson “raise questions in relation to [unprofessional] conduct and possible bias in favour of Thompson and Clark,” SIS director general Rebecca Kitteridge said in response to an Official Information Act request.

“In light of this correspondence, I have asked for several matters to be looked into… These questions are the subject of an internal investigation,” Ms Kitteridge said.

“I have also asked for our internal processes, policies and guidance to be reviewed to ensure that our engagement with private sector providers is professional, appropriate and even-handed.”

The emails appear to show the SIS staff member helping Thompson and Clark book contracts with government agencies around their Protective Security Requirements – “the policy, protocols and guidelines that help agencies identify what they must do to protect their people, information and assets”.

The emails also show Thompson and Clark secured its contract to develop the Department of Conservation’s Protective Security Requirements after checking in with the SIS staffer.

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins, told Checkpoint Thompson and Clark’s relationships with government agencies “certainly looks like it has been inappropriate”.

“The cosiness of the relationship between Thompson and Clark and some parts of the public service is concerning and that is one of the things that the investigation is going to get to the bottom of,” Mr Hipkins said.

It looks like a thorough investigation may be warranted here.