The Prime Minister is facing questions over her former interim chief of staff who, according to records, never officially stepped aside from his role at a lobbying firm at the time.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said on Friday the former interim chief of staff had signed two codes of conduct when he took on the role, and that he filled out a conflict of interest form.
But there is no official declaration in the New Zealand Companies Office records – a government agency – that shows Thompson stepped aside from the company he was a director at, during that time. …
ACT Party leader David Seymour raised the conflict of interest issue in Parliament on Thursday. He asked Ardern why she said Thompson took a leave of absence from his company during his tenure as interim chief of staff, when there’s no record of it.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, standing in for Ardern, replied: “On behalf of the Prime Minister, because it was and is a fact.”
Seymour raised concern about Thompson having access to Cabinet papers during his time as interim chief of staff, while also remaining a director of a company, pointing to the lack of official records.
He told Newshub: “What’s really offensive here, is that the Prime Minister has said, actually he stepped down from those roles, when very clearly he didn’t.”
I don’t think the issue is that GJ spent five months as interim Chief of Staff. The issue is that the PM said he stood down from his role as his firm, when in fact he remained a director and shareholder. He may not have been involved in day to day business, but remaining a director was a conflict.