17 Dec 2014

Goff off the hook over leak

8:04 pm on 17 December 2014

Labour MP Phil Goff has escaped sanction for leaking parts of a report by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security the day before it was due to be made public.

Phil Goff at the select committee considering new anti-terrorism legislation.

Phil Goff had met with the Inspector-General. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The 25 November report found that the Prime Minister's staff helped right-wing blogger Cameron Slater request SIS briefing notes which were embarrassing to Mr Goff when he was Labour leader in 2011.

The report was damning of the SIS, saying it released inaccurate and misleading information leading to unfounded criticism of Mr Goff.

The Inspector-General, Cheryl Gwyn, said while no classified information was disclosed, Mr Goff's actions led to premature media reporting on the content of the report to the detriment of other witnesses to the inquiry, particularly those adversely affected.

She said that was unfair to those witnesses, and she would be taking steps to ensure there was greater clarity around release protocols and legal obligations for future reports.

Ms Gwyn said she had met with Mr Goff and received a full and unreserved apology, in person and in writing. She had accepted that apology, and did not intend to take this matter further.

Phil Goff said today he was pleased that Ms Gwyn won't be taking further action.

"I think that was a generous decision on her part and I appreciate that. I think when you make a mistake like that, you simply own up to it - which is what I did.

"I didn't lie about it, but I didn't pretend that I didn't make the comments and I apologised for being in breach of her embargo. I should have honoured it to the letter."

Mr Goff admitted he jumped the gun by talking to journalists the afternoon before the report was to be released.

The Inspector-General said she would also be writing to media organisations that published details of the report to remind them of obligations under the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act.

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