Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, has called off the inquiry into the source of the leak of National Party travel and accommodation expenses that was to have been undertaken by Michael Heron QC.
“The existence of, and part of the detail of, a text both the Leader of the Opposition and I received last week has been reported on. It has now been confirmed to me that the person who leaked the details of the expenses and the texter are the same person. He or she has details of events that it is unlikely anyone outside the National Party would be privy to.” Mallard says.
“The text is from someone who is clearly very disturbed and today’s publicity will almost certainly make that worse. My priority is to get appropriate support to them whether they are an MP or a staff member.
“I have discussed my decision with Hon Simon Bridges. He disagrees with it. He wants the inquiry to continue. I have indicated to him that the Parliamentary Service will cooperate if he decides that he wants to proceed with an investigation and appropriate consents from MPs are in place. The general manager will make any relevant staff emails available.”
National Leader Simon Bridges says the inquiry into who leaked his travel expenses will continue, despite the Police now knowing the identity of the leaker.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament on Friday, Bridges says he and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard received a text message from an unknown number which “made clear to me it was from the leaker.”
“It stated the leaker was in the National Caucus and also made quite clear that this person had a prolonged, serious mental illness and serious issues in relation to that.”
That person, Bridges says, made clear that there would be “significant harm to them if the investigation by Speaker Mallard proceeded.”
Bridges’ comments followed reports from RNZ that the person claiming to be Bridges’ expenses leaker, sent an anonymous text to the National Leader and Speaker Trevor Mallard pleading for the inquiry to be called off.
After talking to senior National MPs and receiving significant mental health advice on how to proceed, Bridges informed police of the matter on Friday last week.
On Sunday night, police contacted Bridges to inform him they had worked out the identity of the person who sent the text.
They would not reveal the identity of the person to Bridges, however.
“Their view was unless there were specific, overriding factors such as safety, they were not going to disclose that in the interests of privacy.”
In this case, Bridges says the police say such factors are not in play.
Bridges says the police said there were wellbeing issues and the person was getting the help they need.
In terms of what happens now with the inquiry into the leak, Bridges says: “at no time did the police tell me that the investigation should not proceed.”
“They made clear, in fact, that they were working on the assumption it would. And if that was so, they would inform the person in question about that to ensure they had specific help they would require.”
Bridges says the investigation will continue.
“It’s about everyone having confidence in the Parliamentary system.”
He says there has been some comment that the leaks came from within the National Party caucus, but he says there are “a range of credible scenarios that really mean I cannot say whether they were, or they weren’t.”