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The Government wishes Andrea Vance a very merry Christmas

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, December 25th, 2014 - 25 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Deep stuff, john key, journalism, Media, national, newspapers, peter dunne, same old national, spin, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
Except for officials from the DPMC and the PS
Who were busy at work drafting a press release that could attest
That Andrea Vance’s rights of privacy
Had been breached in a way that was egregiously 
But not a word of apology came from John Key the PM
Who never apologises unless it is to his best mate Cameron

This Government is reaching peak cynicism with the decision to apologise to Andrea Vance the day before Christmas for breaching her rights of privacy.  Stuff reported yesterday:

In a statement, both Parliamentary Service and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) acknowledged “the personal hurt and humiliation that Ms Vance suffered as a result of personal information about her being accessed and released”.

“While the agreement is confidential, we can say that the Parliamentary Service unreservedly apologises for its part, and DPMC regrets any part its actions played in contributing to that position,” a spokesman said.

The apology relates to the release to inquirer David Henry by Parliamentary Services of Vance’s swipe card usage, telephone calls and email metadata in an attempt to find out who leaked the Kitteridge Report.  Vance was the reporter to break the story of the report’s contents.  Peter Dunne subsequently resigned as a Minister although he refused to admit that he was the leaker.

The incident attracted heavy criticism from the Dominion Post’s editor Paul Thompson.  He said in an editorial in August 2013:

Fairfax has no confidence in the way this matter is being handled and we feel we have to take the matter further.  This will include requesting, under the Privacy Act, a full account of how Andrea’s private information has been handled.

The release of information detailing Andrea’s swipe card usage, telephone calls and emails to the Henry inquiry was highly inappropriate and intrusive. There has also clearly been an attempted cover up. This has all put enormous pressure on Andrea who has been unfairly targeted for doing her job.

We hope the privacy commissioner will cut through the Government spin and provide Andrea with some redress.

The incident inspired anger amongst the press gallery.  John Armstrong had this to say:

It goes without saying that journalists are by nature deeply suspicious of politicians and the motives which drive them – and vice versa.

Thrown together in the rabbit warren which passes for the parliamentary complex – a veritable hothouse fuelled by rampant ego, unrequited ambition, never-ending rumour and constant intrigue – MPs and media nevertheless have to establish a degree of trust for their mutually parasitic relationship to function effectively.

That trust works on many levels, be it MPs feeling they can talk off-the-record confident they will not be shopped to their superiors, to journalists respecting embargoes, to Cabinet ministers not blocking the release of sensitive documents sought by media under the Official Information Act.

That trust can take a long time to establish. It can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.

Even so, when trust does break down, it usually amounts to little more than a pin-prick on the fabric of democracy.

Not so this week, however. The prevailing sound was of the democratic fabric being ripped asunder.

The trawling of a Press Gallery reporter’s phone logs by parliamentary authorities is a breach of trust of such mega proportions that it may well place a lingering chill on politician-journalist contact.

The complaint was made in August 2013 and resolved now, some 16 months later.  And note there is no sign of an apology from John Key himself.

Compare this to another allegation of breach of privacy although this one is not so clear because one of the persons who was a party to email correspondence voluntarily handed it to the Prime Minister’s Office.  Publication happened on August 30, 2014 and a personal apology from the man himself was made to Slater around three months later.  It was made during a time that Parliament was sitting and allowed Andrew Little to brand Key with #CutTheCrap.

National’s handling of privacy breaches concerning the media is appalling, undemocratic bordering on fascist and this apology is cynical in the extreme.  Yet its handling of privacy breaches concerning Key’s BFF borders on the obsequious.

One could ask why …

25 comments on “The Government wishes Andrea Vance a very merry Christmas ”

  1. karol 1


    Though Key et al have done us a favour.

    Ever since her privacy breach, Vance has done some excellent critical reporting on surveillance issues. She can default to the dominant MSM right wing position when reporting on some other matters, but she is capable of very good independent reporting.

  2. John Williams 2

    So so accurate!

  3. mac1 3

    And the dump of the news of the apology a day before Christmas in itself gives a message- and it’s not in the nature of a gift, but a use of this timing to send a message that they seek to minimise, to deflect and to hide their shame.

    • tc 3.1

      There’s no shame being hidden here its pure political expediency as a result of unbridled power, subversion of due process over an MSM player who looks to possess a spine at times.

      They don’t give a toss it’s just an xmas lolly scramble for the gullible to get a sugar rush over the illusion of democracy being upheld.

  4. dave 4

    i see there has been a ram raid on the winz office the mercury is rising its not happy cheer for all in this happy time of year to those out there please don’t blame the winz staff there as much victims of government policy as you are. direct your anger at those responsible its the people who have hijack the economy for there own interests the ones with all the money sky city for example.

    • tracey 4.1

      I think they werent targetting the staff, by waiting til they are gone. This is why our leaders need to take proper responsibility so as to prevent staff becoming the targets.

  5. tracey 5

    He only apologises when there is a “serious reason”.

    botch up causing distress to victim of attempted rape isnt serious…

    Apologising to victims of escaped murderer and paedophile for making a joke of it, not a serious reason

    Apologising to blogger who lies, deceives his audience, insults everyone and anyone, blasts an innocent public servants name and reputation on the net, breaches name suppression, publishes emails of a personal nature (blomfeild) possibly wrong obtained, writes posts in his name written by others to attack experts,… “serious reason”

    • North 5.1

      Your comment perfectly highlights the utterly cold cynicism Tracey. It is chilling akshilly. To what depths will this bunch of swaggering ‘proud-of-it’ frauds not stoop ? 

  6. tracey 6

    Mickey, dont forget the Collins/Slater breach of privacy to implicate him with no proof as a leaker, Simon Pleasant??

    Public interest?!?

  7. Dungeon Master 7

    Breach of privacy? Pffft. Try having all her emails hacked and republished by Nicky Hager. Then the poor dear playing [deleted] may have something to complain about.

    [karol: can you link to any publicly available evidence of said * deleted *? If not then your comment is in defamatory territory and likely to be deleted]

    [karol: on second thoughts, deleting it to be on the safe side. Either put up evidence or don’t refer to it again]

    [lprent: misogynist insinuation trolling. Banned 6 months. Go back to sewer and wank in concert with the Dishonourable Garrett ]

  8. “regrets any part its actions played in contributing to that position” is wonderfully dense bureaucratese for “we’re sorry if you were offended.” No actual ownership taken of what they did, just a blanket “yeah sorry for whatever.”

  9. Stickler 9

    I wish Ms Vance a Merry Christmas, too, and importantly, I wish her a New Year full of insightful reporting on her part and, on her employer’s part, the courage to publish it.

  10. BLiP 10

    How did Peter Dunne get to be remade a Minister before Andrea Vance got an apology?

    • Skinny 10.1

      The timing of this apology will make for a ‘frosty’ Xmas day in the Dunne household. Oh to be a fly on the wall. Wouldn’t surprise me if Peter is wearing the Xmas trifle on his face by about now.

  11. felix 11

    I wonder if he’s going to claim later that *he* apologised, making him his office again.

    Something to keep an eye on.

  12. Weepus beard 12

    The timing of the release of this apology sums up the crosby-textor tactics this govt is paying for day in, day out.

    I hope Andrea Vance herself throws it back in their face with a hard-hitting column.

  13. Ron 13

    The confidential agreement presumably includes some money. Wonder how much we are paying for yet another cock up

    • Weepus beard 13.1

      How much too did we pay for the “moving on” of the senior female MFAT employee unfairly fingered by Key after the Malaysian diplomat cock up?

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