This newspaper has never found Mr Feslier, a former Radio New Zealand journalist and press secretary to Labour cabinet minister Margaret Wilson, easy to deal with: he dithers, he stalls and he obfuscates. But it is one thing to be unhelpful and another to mislead. No-one could read his email exchanges with journalists and colleagues and conclude that this was not his purpose.
Harsh language, but true it seems.
His sins are not in the same league as those of the former Immigration Service spokesman who was found a few years ago to have “deliberately dissembled” over the existence of the infamous “lie in unison” memo, but they are indicative of an unhealthy culture that has developed within some, but not all, parts of the public service as the number of spin doctors employed by government agencies has mushroomed.
And the lie in unison memo was covered up also in an internal whitewash.
Presumably, Mr Feslier acted as he did because he wanted to spare his bosses embarrassment over the 10 weeks it had taken them to try to reclaim public property from Mr Peters property that might still be unaccounted for if the news media had not asked questions.
But it is not his job to burnish his bosses’ images or to shield them from legitimate public scrutiny. Nor is it his job to deny the public access to information it is entitled to have.
Hopefully OIA requests will also be dealt with in a more timely manner.