A further Parliamentary Service cock up

The Herald reports:

United Future leader Peter Dunne is considering legal action and Fairfax Media is alleging a “cover up” after it emerged yesterday that Mr Dunne’s emails with reporter Andrea Vance were sent to an inquiry investigating the disclosure of a sensitive report.

The latest twist in the Henry Inquiry saga follows earlier revelations that Vance’s phone records were sent to the inquiry, along with logs of her movements around the parliamentary precinct recorded by a swipecard.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet released all emails relating to the Henry Inquiry late yesterday. One included an attachment containing emails between Vance and Mr Dunne, which was sent to the inquiry by Parliamentary Services on May 21.

About 40 minutes after the message was sent, Parliamentary Service officials tried to recall the email and asked the inquiry to call urgently.

The head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Andrew Kibblewhite said the file was deleted immediately and could not have been opened because the email system was incompatible with that used by DPMC.

Unbelievable. And note it was not authorised:

 Parliamentary Services told the inquiry on May 20 it believed it had the “necessary approvals” to release ministers’ emails. However, the next day, Mr Thorn emailed Chief of staff Wayne Eagleson to ask about Mr Dunne’s emails, adding “I am happy to provide the information as requested.” Mr Eagleson said he told Mr Thorn he was uncomfortable about authorising that because Mr Dunne was not a National Party minister, and Mr Dunne would have to give permission himself.

Which he did not.

The Henry Inquiry had asked for calls made “to and from” the ministers’ phones and Miss Vance’s but specified “we do not want the call logs for (Vance’s phones)” as it was outside conditions of the inquiry.

So twice Parliamentary Service provided private communication details, despite explicit statements that that information was not to be included!

People will try to blame this on the PM or his staff, because that is the nature of the politics game. but really, it looks pretty clear to me that the PM’s Office was very careful not to over-step the mark. The problem lies with Parliamentary Service.

However there is a political management issue here, that may involve both. This info should not be coming out piecemeal. Once it was known such information was sent by mistake, it should have all been disclosed together. But it seems DPMC (seperate to the PMO) only mentioned the e-mail incident yesterday to the PM’s Office.

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