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Relations Will Never Be The Same After Rankin

Ministers will be more formal in their dealings with public servants in the wake of the Christine Rankin affair, Prime Minister Helen Clark says.

“That’s the price paid for Mrs Rankin making private meetings public. No minister will lay themselves open to that again,” the Prime Minister said at this afternoon’s post-Cabinet press conference.

Miss Clark said she expected there would be no words uttered in Social Services Minister Steve Maharey’s office that would cause any offence to anyone, not because she requested it, but because the post-Rankin affair environment dictated it.

The Prime Minister said she had not given the head of the Prime Minister’s Department Mark Prebble any advice on how to deal with public servants.

Dr Prebble gave Mrs Rankin tips on how to dress more inconspicuously and told the Employment Court he was offended by the degree of cleavage she exposed.

Asked if the more starchy relations would cut both ways, the Prime Minister said ministers like officials to give them free and frank advice.

Cabinet did not discuss seeking costs from Mrs Rankin today, but it is something the Solicitor General may raise, Miss Clark said.

Mrs Rankin’s $1.2 million grievance case against the Crown, which the former Department of Work and Income Chief Executive said would shock the nation, was dismissed.

Chief Employment Court Judge Tom Goddard said the sensational evidence the court heard was irrelevant and upheld the Crown’s case on the law.

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