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: anne tolley
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 …