The golden rule is never call an inquiry if you don’t know what the result will be. Which suggests that Chris Hipkins may have had more than an inkling that National was involved in the leaking of sensitive material to the media concerning returning kiwis who had been diagnosed with Covid.
Late this afternoon it has exploded in spectacular fashion. Hamish Walker, he of the Indian, Pakistani and Korean slur has fessed up and said he had provided the information to the media.
Then Michelle Boag, she of 18 previous Covid viruses fame, admitted that she was the one who had acquired the information and had fed it to Walker.
From Derek Cheng at the Herald:
National MP Hamish Walker has been stripped of his Opposition portfolios after admitting he passed confidential private details of Covid-19 patients to the media.
He has apologised in a statement today, and didn’t make a reference about whether he intended to remain as the Clutha-Southland candidate in September.
A privacy breach of 18 active Covid cases was revealed by the Weekend Herald, which the Government called serious and possibly criminal.
National leader Todd Muller said tonight that Walker had made an “error of judgment”.
He has stripped Walker of his shadow portfolios pending the outcome of an inquiry for the Government headed by Michael Heron QC, which was launched yesterday.
Boag has also done a mea culpa.
Boag said it was a “massive error of judgment on my part” and apologised.
“The information was made available to me in my position as then Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, although it was sent to my private email address.
“This was a massive error of judgment on my part and I apologise to my colleagues at ARHT whom I have let down badly.
“I very much regret my actions and did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets but I am grateful that the media involved have chosen not to publish the 18 names that were contained within it.”
Boag said she has resigned her position as acting chief executive of ARHT because of her actions.
This will go down like a cup of cold sick with the electorate. The contrast between Jacinda’s principled way of doing politics and National’s tawdry use of private information for political gain is jarring. And a vote changer.
Congratulations to the media for not releasing the information. Shame on National.