15 Sep 2017

Third probe fails to find leaker of Peters' super info

6:07 pm on 15 September 2017

A third investigation into who leaked information about Winston Peters' superannuation overpayments has failed to find who was responsible.

Winston Peters at the Mt Pokaka Timber Mill during his 2017 election campaign.

Winston Peters has repaid the money paid to him in error over several years. Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

The New Zealand First leader admitted last month that he had been getting more money than he was entitled to, but that when he found out, he repaid what he owed.

However, questions were raised about who leaked the details and several investigations were initiated.

The Department of Internal Affairs looked into whether any staff in ministerial offices received or passed on any information about the matter.

It said it found that five employees had received the information before it was reported by the media, but there was no evidence that it was passed on to journalists or other third parties.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Social Development said its investigation had cleared its staff of any wrongdoing.

A third investigation by Inland Revenue found it held none of the relevant information, so it could not have been the source of the leak.

The Ministry said all staff who had access to the relevant information had a reasonable business purpose for accessing it, and there was no evidence the information was passed to a third party.

The ministry said the investigation involved both data searches and staff interviews.

Both Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and State Services Minister Paula Bennett had been briefed about the matter by their departments under the 'no surprises' policy.

Ministerial Services is investigating how the information was handled in the relevant offices.

Prime Minister Bill English's chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, was also briefed.

Mr English has previously said the leak didn't come from the Beehive or the National Party.

  • Early 2010: Winston Peters applies for superannuation. He says that was done in the company of his partner and in the presence of a senior Ministry of Social Development (MSD) official. He was not an MP at the time.
  • 19 June 2017: Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle is told of Mr Peters' case during a routine briefing on operational matters.
  • July: MSD sends Mr Peters a letter notifying him of the incorrect superannuation payments. Mr Peters said he met with an the MSD area manager and the error and overpayment were corrected within 24 hours.
  • 27 July: The MSD chief executive is told the matter has been resolved to officials' satisfaction. He then discussed with the State Services Commission if the matter should be disclosed to the minister.
  • 31 July: Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is verbally informed by MSD's chief executive about the matter under the no surprises policy.
  • 1 August: State Services Minister Paula Bennett is briefed by State Services Commission.
  • 15 August: Mrs Tolley is briefed again by MSD that it is satisfied with the outcome of its meeting with Mr Peters.
  • 27 August: Mr Peters puts out media release saying that there had been a mistake with his superannuation payments and that the issue had been corrected and resolved.
  • 28 August: MSD and Inland Revenue confirm they are investigating whether their departments were involved in the leaking of information to the media.
  • 29 August: Mrs Tolley and Mrs Bennett confirm they were briefed and the Prime Minister's office says chief of of staff Wayne Eagleson was informed. State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said ministers were briefed about the issue only after all decisions had been made. Prime Minister Bill English says neither the Beehive nor the National Party had leaked information but it would have been better on this occasion if ministers were not told.
  • 12 September: Inland Revenue clears its staff of leaking Winston Peters' personal information. It said it did not hold the information that became public and so could not have been the source.
  • 15 September: The Ministry of Social Development and Department of Internal Affairs complete their investigations. Neither investigation could find anyone responsible for the leak.

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