8 Jul 2020

Covid-19 privacy leak: Michelle Boag stands down from roles with National deputy leader Nikki Kaye

2:59 pm on 8 July 2020

High-profile former National Party president Michelle Boag has resigned from her campaign and electorate roles for Auckland Central MP and National deputy leader Nikki Kaye.

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Photo: Boag Allan SvG

It was revealed yesterday that Boag was responsible for leaking Covid-19 patients details to Hamish Walker, who then passed that information on to media.

Boag has resigned from her positions of acting chief executive and trustee at the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, as well as her National Party campaign roles.

Boag clarified she never had access to the private details of Covid-19 patients when she worked for the organisation.

The information was sent to her private email address, but she had access to it as the Trust's acting chief exectutive, she said.

But the Trust's chair Simon Tompkins said an administrative resource, Boag had never had access to any clinical or patient data.

Tompkins said the trust had the details of Covid-19 patients, but that information was protected and only people who needed it to care for patients could access it.

The trust has reviewed its systems and is confident the information was not leaked from within the organisation.

Boag said she didn't anticipate Walker would pass the details onto the media.

The National Party board is meeting from midday to decide Walker's future.

A National Party spokesperson told RNZ the board will be meeting remotely on a secure online platform. They could not confirm when a decision would be made.

Kaye said Walker had "displayed a number of very significant errors of judgement and I think his position is pretty difficult in the future."

Kaye has known Boag for many years and said she was " absolutely gutted" and "hugely disappointed" that she was behind the leak to the MP.

"It's a very terrible situation, she has obviously resigned from her position from the [Auckland] Helicopter Trust and I think it is also appropriate that she has also given up her positions within the National Party.".

"My thoughts are with those people who have been impacted by this information breach," she said.

The breach came about when RNZ and three other media organisations were provided details including the full names, addresses, ages and quarantine locations of the 18 active Covid-19 cases at that time.

Walker said in a statement yesterday he did this to expose the government's shortcomings so they would be rectified.

Boag also apologised, and expressed her regret over her actions and announced she would step down from her role at the Trust.

An inquiry headed by Michael Heron QC is under way into the leak of the highly sensitive information.

In a statement, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust chair Simon Tompkins said Boag's resignation had been accepted.

"The breach which has been admitted by Ms Boag was of an email that was sent to her personal account. As an administrative resource, Ms Boag has never had access to any clinical or patient data held by ARHT. ARHT is an integral part of the health system and we are entrusted with information about our patients which is properly protected by protocols which only enable access to those who need this data to care for the patient.

"We have reviewed these protocols and are confident that none of this patient information has been subject to any privacy breach.

"We want to reassure the New Zealand public and, most importantly, our patients and their families that patient care remains our top priority. Any information we hold on patients is private with access on a restricted basis and has not been breached."

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