Winston sues

Written By: - Date published: 8:10 am, June 12th, 2018 - 78 comments
Categories: bill english, Deep stuff, Dirty Politics, election 2017, national, paula bennett, Politics, same old national, Steven Joyce, winston peters - Tags:

winston_peters

I have mixed views about this.  I can understand how annoyed Winston Peters must feel that his private information was leaked during an election campaign for political purposes.  And his political targets, Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett, must be first on the list of whodunnit, given they were provided with no surprises briefings on Winston’s super overpayment.

But I am not sure that suing senior public servants is helpful or conducive to good management of the government.

The latest is reported by Radio New Zealand:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is taking legal action seeking $400,000 for breach of privacy over the leaking of his superannuation overpayment details.

Papers were lodged in the High Court in Auckland [yesterday].

It was revealed during last year’s election campaign that Mr Peters had been mistakenly overpaid superannuation for seven years.

He paid the money back when the error was discovered, but was furious the information was leaked to the media.

The legal action is against the heads of the Ministry of Social Development and State Services Commission, the Attorney-General on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development and the former National Party ministers – Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett.

It is interesting that Peters has decided not to pursue two National staffers who were part of the original discovery proceeding.  Presumably the information disclosed failed to implicate them.  Joyce and English are also off the list of people being sued.

The sting had a dirty politics feel about it.  This is what I wrote last year just after the news hit the campaign trail:

The timing and the mode of disclosure, using multiple media contacts to ensure the news was maximised suggests strongly that the spreading of the news was deliberate rather than accidental.  It appears that Newshub and Newsroom both knew about the story.  It has been reported this morning that Anne Tolley had been given a heads up by way of a no surprises disclosure two weeks ago.  And Newshub has disclosed that it received an anonymous phone call a couple of days after Tolley was told of Peters’ problems.

Information passed on via a dubious interpretation of the no surprises policy to Ministers then makes its way to media so they can perform a hit job on one of National’s opponents at a damaging time for them.  And no fingerprints.  Although Winston clearly thinks he has discovered some.

This will be an interesting case to follow …

78 comments on “Winston sues”

  1. Hongi Ika 1

    Yep it was a set up they definitely tried to frame him, and it worked a treat.

    • Stunned Mullet 1.1

      It didn’t try to ‘frame’ him. It did try to discredit him through leaking of factual information.

      • Robert Guyton 1.1.1

        “It didn’t try to ‘frame’ him. It did try to discredit him through leaking of factual information.”

        “It”?
        “discredit” – why would “it” want to discredit Winston? To cause him harm? For fun? To gain in some other way? Not electoral gain, surely??? That’s corrupt behaviour, isn’t it?
        “leaking”? Why would “it” leak? For the public good – the only credible reason for leaking anything? Or for “its” “personal” gain?
        Sounds rotten. I’m pleased Winston is pursuing “it”. I wish him well.

        • Stunned Mullet 1.1.1.1

          I suspect you’ll argue exactly the opposite when it’s someone on the other side of the political fence.

          • Robert Guyton 1.1.1.1.1

            No. I won’t. Public good. I’m strong on that. This was not that. This was neferious.

            • cleangreen 1.1.1.1.1.1

              100% Robert, I stand with you on this one as these National supporters really were happy to see illegal behaivior reign as long as it financially rewarded them too.

              So I am supporting Winston fullly here.

              And will also support this other press release I attach here below over the Nicy hargar “illegal search and siezure event that the police have now aditted was wrong, and was showing more polioce corruption also under the last ‘toxic ‘ National Government.

              This also involved attempting to silence ‘The Daily Blog’ that is the sister to The Standard as another ‘left wing social media blogsite’ that would possibly have been the next dark ops operation to attack; – if the attack on Martyn Bradbury had been successful to closing down the TDB site.

              Today over on “the daily blog” editor Martyn Bradbury finally levels his allegations of damages against him by the NZ Police during the National Government “dark ops media/journalism illegal probe” silencing operation.
              My statement to the NZ Police now they have settled the illegal persecution of Nicky Hager
              By Martyn Bradbury / June 12, 2018

              “…once the abuses of power have been settled, and the damages paid, THEN we should start asking how many other people have been caught out by this and who set the Police on this politically influenced investigation in the first place.”

              Yes, yes, yes, give the freedom back to our “investigative Journalists again” so they now can now continue their work to (without fear and incrimination) freely investigate the “dark ops National Government operations they carried out” as they attempted to subvert and silence our “freedom of the press journalism in NZ”

              • Akldnut

                About time too, it took way too long to come to a decision the rest of the country knew in heartbeat.

                Hagers result will hopefully inspire other journalists to do some real investigative work rather than google what the others are writing at the time and plagiarise it.

                • Chris

                  Maybe, but if it does it’ll be the Ian Wisharts and other right wing filth that’ve emerged from the cultural shift brought on by the greedy hateful and selfish.

              • Robert Guyton

                Sweet!

          • Hongi Ika 1.1.1.1.2

            I am interested in knowing who “it” was ?

  2. Ad 2

    This is the privacy test case we all needed.

    • D'Esterre 2.1

      Ad: “This is the privacy test case we all needed.”

      I agree. As a fellow recipient of National Superannuation, at the time, I was infuriated on Peters’ behalf over this case, and the egregious breach of his privacy.

      As to the public servants who are also the subject of this lawsuit, I’m unsympathetic. Of all people, public servants ought to be conversant with the provisions of the Privacy Act; ignorance isn’t a defence. These people are also supposed to be independent of whichever government is in power: breaching the Act in that fashion, so as to give information to the then Ministers, makes them look pusillanimous. And conniving.

      We the citizens are entitled to rely on the Privacy Act for protections of the sort it confers. Having a public profile doesn’t obviate entitlement to those protections.

      I’d add that, if the intention was to damage Peters, it backfired spectacularly.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    We need to see privacy as Europe does – as a right.

    That means no more video of vulnerable accident victims at crash scenes.

    • Stunned Mullet 3.1

      No politician from any party should have any right to privacy regarding any failure either willful or accidental on their part regarding public money or services in their private or public life.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        Be that as it may, MSD broke the law. Neither the Privacy nor State Services Commissions batted an eyelid.

        • AsleepWhileWalking 3.1.1.1

          Media ran with it ..remember the big teaser on Twitter the weekend before late Sunday leak?

      • Ed1 3.1.2

        Who determines fault? And which parties would be prepared to change the law to enable special treatment for politicians?

      • Robert Guyton 3.1.3

        Everybody has a right to privacy, surely? If there are just reasons for that privacy to be over-ruled, then the situation is different, but were there in this case?
        Can’t see it.

        • Stunned Mullet 3.1.3.1

          Where you are an elected politician it should be mandatory that all the benefits and payments you are taking from the public purse are disclosed, there is also a very good good argument that all your private benefits and payments should also be disclosed.

          • Ad 3.1.3.1.1

            We haven’t had that argument yet.
            And even if we did, it would not go well for us.

            We have a punitive culture in New Zealand that would humiliate and degrade people if it were publicly disclosed how much direct subsidy we individually got.

            The indirect subsidies would be an endless minefield of debate which would rip us apart even further.

            • Stunned Mullet 3.1.3.1.1.1

              Nah fuck the politicians, the public have a right to know where and from whom they’re getting funds and koha and most especially so when it’s coming directly from the public purse.

          • Robert Guyton 3.1.3.1.2

            Tried by the media, eh! Nice ethics, stunned. If in fact, there was illegal behaviour that impacted upon the public at large, then perhaps. It’s a case by case thing and in Winston’s case, nah!

            • Stunned Mullet 3.1.3.1.2.1

              I have no problem with the likes of English , Turei and Peters having to disclose what they’re getting from the state and then being tried by media – fuck en all.

          • Hongi Ika 3.1.3.1.3

            Evidently it was MSD who made the mistake. Winston was not aware that MSD had made a miscalculation. When he was made aware he went straight to MSD and settled the amount he had been overpaid ?

            • alwyn 3.1.3.1.3.1

              Very brave suppositions. I really find it hard, even with Winston’s mental decrepitude, to believe that for seven years he never thought about the amount he was getting and whether it was correct.
              I wonder if he will have to allow them to produce his original application with the details he provided to the Department?

              • Tamati Tautuhi

                12/6/18 The Standard Troll Daily Pick Six

                Two legs up already today and it is only 10.00am

                Leg One: Stunned Mullet
                Leg Two: Alwyn

              • dukeofurl

                You mean Winston should have checked the details like John key always did

                “John Key is now admitting he should have been more honest about just how many shares he had in Tranz Rail.
                The National Party leader’s confession and apology comes after ONE News confronted him on Monday with evidence of his portfolio worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. …
                Key says it was his broker who managed the trust’s portfolio and he says he made a mistake by not asking about the full number of shares he owned.
                He says he found that out later and he should have make that public when he found out this year. ”
                http://tvnz.co.nz/content/2097819/2556418.xhtml

                • Richard Christie

                  even if so it’s wotaboutism

                • cleangreen

                  100% so well poimted out there dukeofurl,
                  You may upset the sleeping natz supporters that believe John Key was “as pure as snow”

                • Tamati Tautuhi

                  JK didn’t know what assets he had as they were in a Blind Trust ?

              • dukeofurl

                ‘hard to believe that for seven years he never thought about the amount he was getting and whether it was correct.’

                HE DID !
                “Peters said he never realised the error because his payments were well below that amount which his married friends were getting.

                “Frankly the figure was not high at all and way lower than most of the ones that I was aware of from people I knew who were married or widowed.”
                https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11912314

                So lets hope thats the end of that little canard.
                It seems it didnt include any accommodation supplements other superannuatants might be getting

                I would have been different. If I was a superannuitant I would check every detail as bureaucracies make all sorts of errors like anyone else would.

                • Tamati Tautuhi

                  Mullet head one of the regular trolls on te T/S has really got his ovaries in a twist today over Winston laying charges. MSD were the ones which f’ed up for FFS.

      • D'Esterre 3.1.4

        Stunned Mullet: “No politician from any party should have any right to privacy regarding any failure either willful or accidental on their part regarding public money or services in their private or public life.”

        The Privacy Act applies to all of us, politicians included. Whatever your views about said politicians, there can be no contracting out of it. For anybody.

      • soddenleaf 3.1.5

        Should Winston be overseeing MSD as acting PM. Like Key stood aside over the secret services. Using a mobile on a plane, walking through security at an airport…

        MPs make mistakes, its in the interest of the public that they react appropriately, payback the money, distance themselves from the portfolio. The question of a wide spread abuse of pensions entitlement should have seen someone in the public service explain how it happened. So should the public service have admitted the error long before the election, as this incident was historical at the election.

        Privacy, sure. But also questionable timing. Remembering his partner attended with him.

        • Tamati Tautuhi 3.1.5.1

          Suddenleaf it was very questionable timing when Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett released the information to the Press, right on the eve of the 2017 Election you hit the nail on the head. Dirty Politic 102 however our corrupt judiciary will turn a blind eye, after all they are both blue blooded Tories.

  4. dukeofurl 4

    The reason why Social Development AND State Services are being sued is because they turned the ‘no suprises’ political convention on its head to now include juicy information we are busting to divulge.

    privacy laws and secrecy provisions of the Social welfare act dont have carve outs for political convenience.

    Remember this

    Paula Bennett has this afternoon told Parliament that, apart from reading the Privacy Commission’s website, she did not seek any advice before releasing personal details about the benefits received by two solo mothers.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10587131

    and then the later one
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/81062253/paula-bennetts-office-accused-of-smearing-chairman-of-auckland-marae-helping-homeless

    and MSD and SSC involvement?
    MSD can advise that the Chief Executive was first made aware of this issue as part of a routine briefing on operational matters, on 19 June.

    The Chief Executive was further advised on 27 July that the matter had been resolved to officials’ satisfaction.

    The Chief Executive discussed with the State Services Commission (SSC) whether this matter needed to be disclosed to his Minister, under the ‘no surprises policy’. The SSC provided advice that this should be disclosed to the Minister of Social Development under the ‘no surprises’ policy.

    Its unprecedented the the SSC should give advice that this is a ‘no surprises’ matter and I cant see any court allowing them to trample over privacy provisions in this way.

    Of course various public statements which are full of spin can be tested in court under oath and then can reveal a lot more behind the scenes and on different dates than the spin suggest

    MSD didnt contact the Privacy Commissioner to see if such conduct was allowed as of course the answer would no

  5. dukeofurl 5

    Heres SSC Peter Hughes absurd statement that a ‘convention’ overrides the Privacy provisions of the Social Welfare Act.

    The ‘No Surprises Convention’ is set out in the Cabinet Manual and requires departments to inform Ministers promptly of matters of significance within their portfolio responsibilities, particularly where these matters may be controversial or may become the subject of public debate.

    I am advised that the convention exists because of Ministerial accountability to Parliament. Ministers are accountable to the Parliament for the conduct of the department they have portfolio responsibility for.

    It is essential that Ministers are aware of significant issues within their portfolios so they can answer to the Parliament. However, they must not become involved in operational matters within Departments.

    The Chief Executive of MSD discussed this issue with me.Mr Boyle and I sought advice from the Solicitor-General on the appropriate way to ensure decisions were made independently and the requirement to ensure Ministers were not surprised was met.

    My advice to Mr Boyle was that MSD should deal with Mr Peters’ case in line with the agency’s standard policies and procedures, in exactly the same way as would happen for any other New Zealander. I am assured that is what happened.
    Briefings were provided to the Minister of Social Development by MSD, and to the Minister of State Services by SSC.

    No briefings were given to Ministers until after all decisions were made. That ensured there could not have been inappropriate involvement in operational decisions, while allowing Ministers to be aware of significant matters in their portfolio.

    There was an expectation that these matters would be held in confidence by Ministers…..

    http://www.ssc.govt.nz/no-surprises-policy-statement-state-services-commissioner-peter-hughes

    Notice how certain items are run together to appear they are part of the same advice -” to act independently”

    Was the Solicitor general asked about the privacy policy or the no surprises and not told it was a single item referring to ONE beneficiary

    “No briefings were given till after all decisions were made”
    As if a Ministers involvement in an operational decision was par for the course

    “allowing Ministers to be aware of significant matters in their portfolio.”
    Really ? Political dynamite but a very small matter as of course many beneficiarys get caught out in the paperwork

    Not a peep about privacy provisions , as of course that would blow their whole fabric of falsehoods out of the water.

    Even more baffling is the decision to notify the Minister for State services – Bennett
    Thats a gross breach of privacy rules as SSC involvement was only peripheral.

  6. dv 6

    Did MSD contact Peters about there mistake re the over payment at all BEFORE telling the ministers?

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      MSD claims that the issue was all resolved before telling ‘Thelma and Louise’

      Although they refer to ‘the Minister’ and my guess is that ‘the office of the minister’ was in the loop early

      • dv 6.1.1

        SO, as Thelma and Louise are not named and only MSD.
        Does that mean the time line is

        MDS told peters
        Peters repaid
        MSD told Thelma and Louise
        Then the leak occured.

        Suspicious even.

  7. Baba Yaga 7

    I’m glad Peters is pursuing this, and I am genuinely interested in the outcome. If Bennet’s fingerprints are on this, she is dumber than dumb.

    • cleangreen 7.1

      This is the perfect time for openning up the “National Party dirty politics investigation” ; – time is right for this now.

    • Robert Guyton 7.2

      Even if they aren’t.

  8. grantoc 8

    The politics of this interest me.

    Peters chooses to lodge these new claims with the high court just as the pm is about to take maternity leave and he is about to become the acting pm. At the very least he puts Ardern on the defensive and she is subject to tough interviews such as the one with Guyon Espinar on Morning Report today. She ends up looking weak and defending the indefensible. Apparently she didn’t know of Peter’s intention until yesterday.

    It also creates an unnecessarily complex web of fraught relationships at the highest level of government with a heightened potential risk that something significant will go off the rails. For instance one of the defendants is Parker the Attorney General; a cabinet minister colleague. Another is the State Services Commissioner.

    There are many possible conflict of interest situations that are now created as a result of this action.

    Peter’s had the choice to delay the lodging of his claim until after Ardern was back at work.

    It is very curious that he has decided to go ahead now where he risks creating significant dysfunction within the coalition and with senior public servants.

    And then just to stir the pot a bit more, he adds the debacle with Little re 3 strikes into the mix……

    • dukeofurl 8.1

      Attorney General is just a generic term here, it doesnt mean the person who holds the office. All the legal details will be dealt with on behalf by Solicitor general

      There is no problem with Peters being Acting PM as any 15 year old who has been aware of US events will know:
      Recusal

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.2

      These are not new claims.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.3

      These are not new claims*.

      Edit: weird: two comments posted, before the one I was intending to post was even finished. In any event, this matter has been before the courts for months.

      *so that’s your entire screed of dribble rendered moot. Did you actually believe it, or were you just spinning bullshit?

    • Ankerawshark 8.4

      Grantor……listened to jacinda talking to Guyon and thought she did exceptionally well.

  9. Hongi Ika 9

    Grunter what you need to realise is NZF is a different party to Labour and Jacaranda and Little are in the Labour Party.

    This is a personal matter between Winston and MSD, it is not a NZF or a coalition issue.

    • cleangreen 9.1

      100% Hongi Ika.

      ‘The Time is nigh’
      The word “nigh” means near, so this phrase means that whatever is going to happen it’s going to be coming soon “also nigh means close for you people.”

      ‘No time to wait for finding who leaked this information’!!!!!

      We need to stop any more “dirty politics” as we need the government to carry out their reforms of running the country that National ruined in the last nine years.

  10. Nick 10

    I hope Winston wins and forces out Paula Benefit from politics , that would be a good outcome for NZ.

    • cleangreen 10.1

      Nick we all want to see justice carried out as we need to stop these criminals trying to subvert our parliamentary system.

      This was a crimainal act by national politicians clearly and we need to bring them to justice now before they do more damage.

      • grantoc 10.1.1

        Better get in there Cleangreen and execute some citizen arrests.

        I wouldn’t rely on any body else or any of the normal agencies to do it, because they won’t. Its over to you and your bunch of merry men to protect the realm from these dastardly criminals.

  11. Puckish Rogue 11

    If something illegal did happen then whoever did it, or authorised it, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law

  12. Good on Mr Peters. First off , it was Paula Bennett who seemed to have a penchant for releasing private information to the media to smear her ‘enemy’s’, – recall the two incidents regarding two female beneficiaries.

    And as MS states , this latest looked all too convenient to be anything else but a set up. A continuation of the Dirty Politics theme. This may send a warning shot across the bows of any future Dirty Politics operators that they will indeed be called to answer for their skulduggery.

    It makes no difference who commits it,.. if its a breach of privacy , its breaking the law.

    And this example may show that whats good for the commoner is also good for the King. There have been countless examples of this breach of parliamentary privilege over the years , and never is anyone sufficiently held to account via the courts, -particularly with regard to the last 9 years of the National party’s govt. What message does that send to the electorate?

    That if you’re a common person you can be hauled before the courts , fined, imprisoned and given a criminal record , – but if your in any way connected to the inner levels of a ruling political party you are immune?

    No. Good on Mr Peters.

    I hope he gets satisfaction.

  13. Michelle 13

    The people that did this need to be held accountable for their actions. I think Winstone is doing the right thing. They should not be allowed to get away with this privacy breach. For 9 years they have kicked a lot of people in the guts and they have treated too many Kiwis like shit. I’m sure we all know who did this and why.

    • … ‘ I think Winston is doing the right thing ‘ …

      Of course he is.

      Of COURSE he is.

      And like I said earlier , the Right Honourable Winston Peters , – soon to be the Right Honourble Winston Peters Acting Prime Minister will be settling old scores ,… and righting a few historic wrongs when Jacinda Adern temporarily steps down.

      And THAT’S what all these neo liberal scumbags are afraid of.

      The man is going to be Prime Minister after all these years of being wrongfully shat on. And a certain bloke called Rob will be smiling down from a better place….

      Bring it on.

  14. cleangreen 14

    I hope Winston takes a hard stand to punish both National toxic MP’s Anne Tolley & Paula Bennett to show how bad these both were complely now because both of these have damaged very many of our citizens in their reckless actions as careless MP’s.

    We in HB/Gisborne all knew about Anne Tolley’s previous lack of care for her consitiuents while a deputy Mayor of Napier City Council, and after that was a National Party Candidate,

    In Gisborne she was named as “No show Tolley” for very good reasons, so these two are very toxic MP’s.

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    But I am not sure that suing senior public servants is helpful or conducive to good management of the government.

    I’m pretty sure it is. We should not be allowing public servants, especially MPs, to get away with this sort of behaviour.

    In fact, it probably needs to be an actual crime.

    • Hongi Ika 15.1

      DTB what you need to realise is, it is a private matter between MSD and Winston Peters it has nothing to do with NZF or New Zealand Politics.

      • Draco T Bastard 15.1.1

        The release of the information most definitely was to do with politics. It was trying to discredit WP so as to prevent NZ1st from being voted for.

        That was obvious from the time it was reported.

  16. grantoc 16

    AOB

    The actual claims are not new; agreed. There is a change in who the defendants are however.

    As I stated – its the current politics surrounding this issue and the timing that interests me along with their potential significance. These are issues are real – I’m commenting on what I observe.

  17. Hongi Ika 17

    DTB what you need to realise is, it is a private matter between MSD and Winston Peters it has nothing to do with NZF or New Zealand Politics.

  18. patricia bremner 18

    The win by Nicky Hager has perhaps set a marker? Winston is entitled to justice.

    Too many think because he is paid through the public purse that he should “suck it up”

    Why has Bennett shown such disregard for privacy? Oh, that’s right “injunctions” when her privacy is breached…. but “gossip” being in the know” is different? She and Tolley may regret that. IMO.

    • cleangreen 18.1

      Yes Patriicia,

      This day is a great day for justice and the free press!!!!

      So now we can see our ‘investigative journalists come out of the closet again” – to place light on all the bad stuff National party did during the “dark ops” over those last nine years.

  19. Tamati Tautuhi 19

    Are they releasing some political prisoners here in NZ today ?

  20. Treetop 20

    Peters has every right to be treated as an ordinary citizen when it comes to his personal life.

  21. Mark 21

    Winnie protesteth far too much for my liking.

    • patricia bremner 21.1

      This is a case of a personal nature, one apart from a formal recount… which he won!!

  22. ianmac 22

    In QT today the dancing fellow D Seymour used his scarce questions to attempt a go at W Peters who was speaking on behalf of the PM.
    Seymour failed miserably.
    He was pretty sulky. Point of Order? Forget it.
    Seymour tried to raise P of O again after Q8. Forget it David.
    https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=200717

  23. Nick K 23

    Mickey, you’re a lawyer so riddle me this. What’s Peters cause of action, and how can he measure his damages?

    • dukofurl 23.1

      read the story:
      “New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is taking legal action seeking $400,000 for breach of privacy over the leaking of his superannuation overpayment details.

      Thats why they give intros.

      • Bg 23.1.1

        So he gets his hand caught in the state cookie jar (again) and it’s everyone else’s fault because he got found out?

        And to matters worse he wants to sue the govt for even more money??? You couldn’t even make this up.

        I wonder if people here would be so forgiving if he went with the Nats

  24. Chris T 24

    In a few days time Winston will be in charge of the people he is sueing and who have to defend themselves in the court against him.

    Nothing dodgy about that at all.

    • John up North 24.1

      Recusal………… you’re a clown and very much trying to push the same stupid line Espiner was plumbing when attempting to create a “what if” hints of corruption/political interference about Peters in his BS line of questioning that Jacinda jammed back down his skinny throat.

      CLOWN!

      • Chris T 24.1.1

        Please link to him saying he is not going to be in charge of those he is sueing.

        Thanks

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