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PM responsible for inquiry breaching press freedom

21 August 2013

Prime Minister responsible for inquiry breaching press freedom

Breaches of press freedom were inevitable when the Prime Minister set up an inquiry to investigate a leak to a journalist with no boundaries set on what information could be obtained, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

Parliament’s privileges committee this morning held public hearings into how a journalist and a MP's records were sought by John Key’s inquiry.

“The Prime Minister ordered an inquiry into a leak involving a journalist but did not set any constraints on that inquiry in terms of seeking the journalist’s information,” Dr Norman said.

“The inquiry was the Prime Minister’s beast, he gave it his prey’s scent, let it off its leash and was surprised when it started hunting.”

The Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Andrew Kibblewhite and Prime Minister John Key’s Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson appeared this morning and told the committee they were surprised that journalist Andrea Vance’s information was sought by the David Henry inquiry.

“Andrew Kibblewhite and Wayne Eagleson today told MPs and the public to believe that an inquiry set up to find out how a journalist got a report would not seek information about the journalist,” Dr Norman said.

“The Prime Minister’s left and right hand men were surprised the inquiry set up to find out how a journalist got a report might seek information about that journalist.

“What is surprising is that the inquiry was set up with no boundaries about what information it could or could not access.

“David Henry, who led the inquiry, told the committee it was up to others to authorise the release of the journalist’s emails and phone calls and he has a point.

“Not only did the Prime Minister’s closest staff fail to ensure the inquiry was set up in a way that would not breach press freedoms or the privacy of an MP, but Wayne Eagleson authorised the release of information.

“The Henry inquiry was given everything it asked for and had no constraints on what it could seek. There was also a clear failure in that information was provided that should not have been.

“No one responsible for setting up this botched inquiry is taking responsibility. The one man who has resigned, head of Parliamentary Service Geoff Thorn, appears to have been the only one raising concerns about what was being sought.

“John Key should apologise and take responsibility for what happened under his authorisation.”

ENDS

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