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SSC Investigation Into Telecom Leak

Media release, 16 May 2006.

Release of the State Services Commission’s Investigation Into The Disclosure Of A Classified Telecommunications Stocktake Review Paper To Telecom

The State Services Commissioner, Mark Prebble today released the findings of the State Services Commission investigation into the leak of a Cabinet paper to Telecom.

Mark Prebble said the Cabinet paper was taken by Mr Michael Ryan, a Messenger employed by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), and was given to an employee of Telecom.

"The investigation found that Mr Ryan acted alone. He took a paper which it was his job to handle and abused the trust given to him by passing it to someone who ought not to have been given it.

"I consider Mr Ryan's actions to be disgraceful.

"The Telecom employee, having received the paper, was compromised and felt obliged to take the paper to Telecom's legal advisors. Telecom, and the employee, were passive recipients of the paper. They neither encouraged Mr Ryan to provide it, nor was he offered or given any reward for providing it. Mr Ryan had provided no previous information on any earlier occasion to Telecom.

"I consider that Telecom is not to blame for its receipt of the document.

"Mr Ryan took the document from within a work area of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This raises the need to consider the adequacy of the systems that were being followed by DPMC. The review finds that the systems operated by the department were appropriate and followed properly by every person, other than Mr Ryan. The report recommends that DPMC review its systems for disposal of sensitive Cabinet documents, but overall the system currently in place and its operation appears sound.

"I am aware that there has been extensive speculation in the last couple of weeks as to the source of this leak. The actions of one individual have cast suspicion on many agencies and many public servants. I would like to thank those agencies for their cooperation during the investigative process.

"From this investigation, we now know that the leak did not involve Ministers, it did not involve any senior advisors, it did not involve any Ministers' office, it did not involve the Prime Minister's office.

"The truth is much more ordinary than all of the speculation. The problem occurred entirely within the Public Service, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. That department exists in order to support the Prime Minister and her colleagues in their discreet collective deliberation on public policy matters. Though the review has not found any significant problem in systems or management, the fact remains that this leak was a major lapse in the performance of the department's primary function.

"The department has taken every possible step since the leak was discovered. Management and staff have been very helpful with our investigation. From the time when the source of the leak became apparent the Chief Executive, Maarten Wevers, has taken prompt and firm employment action.

"A lapse having results of this magnitude cannot be overlooked, and it is my job to hold the Chief Executive to account. I have informed Mr Wevers that this serious matter will be taken into account in his performance assessment for the current year.

"I also intend making a copy of the report available to the Police for them to determine whether they consider any further investigation of Mr Ryan's actions is warranted.

"I would like to thank all parties for their swift assistance with our inquiries, which enabled a fast investigative process. This was a matter of intense public interest involving an unprecedented leak of sensitive Budget information. I have now informed Ministers that I am satisfied that there is no ongoing risk to the security of government information in relation to this matter," Mark Prebble said.

ENDS

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