PM’s inquiry may be illegal
1 July 2013
PM’s inquiry may be illegal
The Prime Minister’s inquiry into the leaking of the Kitteridge report appears to have acted beyond the law by accessing Peter Dunne’s email account log without his permission, and the Green Party has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsmen on this issue, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.
After the leaking of the Kitteridge report the Prime Minister’s department established an inquiry into the leak headed up by David Henry. This inquiry accessed Peter Dunne’s parliamentary email account log to access his email metadata in order to determine to whom Mr Dunne sent emails, from whom he received emails, at what times and what the subject line was.
“I have spoken to Peter Dunne and he has made it clear to me that he does not recall giving permission for Mr Henry or the Prime Minister’s office to access his parliamentary email account log. Nor does he have any record from the Prime Minister’s office emailing him that they intended to access his parliamentary email logs.
“I have asked written questions of the Prime Minister and he has stated that Mr Henry never sought permission before accessing Mr Dunne’s email account log.
Mr Henry accessed Mr Dunne’s email log and then sought copies of the content of those emails he considered relevant, but Mr Dunne then declined to release that content.
“This is a very serious matter.
“An official acting on behalf of the Prime Minister has accessed the email accounts of a Member of Parliament apparently without that member’s permission.
“The parliamentary server belongs to Parliament not the Executive. MPs control whether their email logs are released from the parliamentary server, not the Prime Minister’s office.
“This is a separate matter from accessing Ministerial email account logs, which arguably the Prime Minister can access lawfully. And it is a separate matter from accessing Mr Dunne’s security card record of movements throughout the building, for which Mr Dunne says he did give permission.
“This is about the Prime Minister’s officials accessing MPs’ email accounts apparently without their permission.
“This comes on top of the terrible decision by the Parliamentary Service to hand over data on movements of journalists and politicians throughout the building.
“The PM needs to explain how it was lawful for an official acting on his behalf to access the email logs of a Member of parliament held on the Parliamentary server apparently without that member’s permission.
“In a democracy such as New Zealand it is unacceptable for the media and MPs to have their details trawled through by unelected officials acting on behalf of the Minister responsible for our security services.”