Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard calls off inquiry into the source of the leak of National Party travel and accommodation expenses that was to be done by Michael Heron QC

Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard calls off inquiry into the source of the leak of National Party travel and accommodation expenses that was to be done by Michael Heron QC

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.”

Earlier:

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.”

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68 Comments

11
up

"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."
What? About being in the National Caucus!? Now, every Kiwi will look at every National Caucus member and wonder "Is it them with the mental issues?"...

Interesting thinking of who's not flanking Simon there.

12
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Oh please Ed, can we run a sweepstake? I'm picking **** *****.

Yes MTP.
I am picking ++++ ++++ and given my sources I am prepared to wager high. ;)

I'm going for someone with a double barreled first name.

I've already bagged Judith C in this sweepstake, so I'd better stick with her.

There...is only one of their MPs with a double-barreled first name. That narrows it down.

Someone in National's Caucus with a "prolonged, serious mental illness" - you don't say!

Sounds like they should resign, when elected to be a MP, you become a public figure - if you can't handle that, leave!

Hiding behind 'mental illness' is disgraceful, especially considering it is 'serious' and 'prolonged' - why become a public figure at all if you're unable to stop yourself from doing the wrong thing, or are scared of the light of truth?

You wouldn't become a surgeon if you had Parkinson's disease. A little bit of common sense wouldn't go astray!

All this is ironic considering National underfunded mental health! Bridges, as always, comes off as a ham.

To do something and then to claim mental health issues is no reason to stop the inquiry in my view. The inquiry should then be extended to whether the claim of mental health issues is correct or not, or is just being used as an untrue diversion.

I still think it's Amy Adams. She was looking pretty guilty in the press conference, but the fact that she was present will likely defer speculation to others that weren't there. Plus she's the Finance Spokesperson, so information i'd imagine she's direct privy to.

The biggest issue probably facing Simon Bridges now is not so much the leak, but how to minimise the political fallout "IF" the leak was from either within or from someone with close personal connections (e.g. a spouse) to caucus. Given events over the past week or two, "IF" it was someone with very close ties to the National caucus, it can only result in egg on his face given Simon's earlier assurances that it was not from within the National caucus.

However, considering Simon Bridges' comments at the press conference today, was the text simply an attempt to shift blame onto the National Caucus rather than a personal admission? This would give reason for the inquiry progressing.

At this stage, for us punters nothing seems definite and the intrigue continues in this "who-dun-it?" mystery.

17
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The biggest problem I see for Simon Bridges is he brought this on himself by making a mountain out of a molehill and demanding an inquiry to find the leaker. He would've been better off saying; 'Yes, my expenses were high but I'm the new leader and I really wanted to get around the country to meet people. They won't be so high next time.'

He could of course welcome the inquiry if it ferreted out an influential opponent to his leadership. Would that person's membership of the National caucus be tenable?

Agreed YoungTel. Its an ideal way for Bridgey to throw the spotlight on the treachery hiding in the shadows. He can step back and say "Its, eh, nothing, eh, to do with me, eh. I am, eh, just taking guidance from the PoPo etc etc,".

Mick T. 'Treachery' ...really ? if the person is suffering from serious mental illness as claimed, such an accusation is nonsense.

I don't care where the leak came from if the leaker really is mentally unwell - inside the caucus, opposition, wherever. It is an apolitical issue. They need help - end of story.

Just chucking it out there bro.

Always interests me when a story morphs from a "wide ranging" QC appointed investigation into a 'but think of the children moment'. There's a phrase for it...... what is it.......the Art of Political Deflection

Mick T. By proposing that deflection tactics are at play you are imputing disingenuousness to the citing of mental illness as a causal factor. But you don't have evidence - yet - to support that suggestion.

As you say, just chucking it out there. But maybe in the hope it will stick.

@ Middleman So it will be okay to allow this person with mental issues to hide away, stay on and make decisions on our behalf? Yikes!

Nope. Didn't say that. They must be ferreted out and treated. But not publicly pilloried, labelled as treacherous or assumed capable of making appropriate ethical distinctions until we know whether or not the claim of mental illness is valid. If not, they must be exposed for the good of our democracy.

True, it's an important consideration: genuine mental illness vs. pleading temporary insanity.

Otherwise it simply sets the precedent of "better not prosecute / expose that person for wrong-doing, they might get too upset". It's a novel approach to say "please stop looking for me otherwise I might do myself harm".

Call me cynical, but my interpretation is that they found out who the leaker was, recoiled in horror, and came up with the mental illness story as an excuse to stop the inquiry, avoid revealing who did it, and try and cover the whole mess up and pretend it never happened. Will be one of the Nats' top table making a bungled attempt to knife poor hapless Soimon in the back.

My money is on Claire Curran

Wrong party

....wait and see..timing...stitch-ups etc

Gareth;
The issue is not so much about the information leaked, but rather, a breech of confidentiality of embargoed information.
Such a breech of confidentiality - either by Parliamentary Services or a caucus member - is considered a serious issue and one that could well continue if not addressed. This would have serious implications relating to confidentiality on other matters.
Simon Bridges did point this out at the time. The information was to be made public later that week.

I'm more interested in the reaction of someone who wants to be PM to the leaking of unfavourable, but in my view, relatively insignificant information about him than someone breaking the rules of some bureaucratic parliamentary process.

Gareth. He had been reading 'do nothing Simon' columns for weeks and needed to show he had some steel in his spine; simple explanation I reckon. He spotted an opportunity to roll a head showing he's a tough guy. Cue mock outrage, load, missfire.

All expenses incurred by Public Officials should be open to view, open to investigation, open to accounting for them.

When an individual wastes his own money, it is up to them. Their expenses are their own concern.

When these people waste my money, I wish the whole World to know...it might bring these expensive idiots into line.....

We pay enough for these people at the best of times....and unfortunately this is getting beyond a joke..

(Even though it is Friday...I ain't laughing.).

I would use Fonterror as a similar example...you've milked the system enuff....enough already!.

Cut back on your, ....sorry ............your customers,..... Customers expenses......it is time you all realised...

Enuff is ...ENUFF.. ..Toe the bleedin line...

18
up

I'm actually feeling a bit of sympathy for Simon here. National are looking more like the Australian Liberal Party daily! This is key stone cops stuff.

Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters really are the "grownups" now.

Yes. I thought that Emerson's cartoon in this morning's Herald was great.

Here we were all expecting such a self-destructing eruption sometime in our coalition which currently shows no sign of eventuating.

22
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Just remember Simon had a bit to say when Winston made a big deal about actual private information being leaked.

https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/359430/national-party-criticise...

"He should be focused on doing a good job for New Zealanders, not on his own personal vendettas."

Good catch.

Bridges needs to persist with the investigation, otherwise he'll look as though he's lost the changing shed.

Didn't Jacinda look good, NOT putting the boot in to Nationals bumblings.

Bridges is going down fighting....? This investigation is about his future as the opposition leader

Tim D. Peters looked really grown up yesterday when being led away from the podium by Julie Bishop before he made an even bigger twat of himself.

The Aussies love Peters! They're envious of us on so many levels it hurts

Amazing how the same event is spun different ways depending on whether one hears about it first through talkback, a neutral source, or a favourable source.

18
up

maybe it was simon bridges not agreeing with how simon bridges goes about his business

Your comment wins the internet for today.

18
up

Bridgeys attempts at empathy and concern are so bereft of any genuine feeling that it makes you wonder if he is actually a sentient being.

Oh, what the hell now ...

Who's in the National Caucus anyway? How big a list of suspects have just been thrown under the bus?

Where is Paula Benefit?

Yes. Boom.

Bridges has called her that in the past.
Paula has leaked stuff in the past. She wasn't around at the press conference. I think the shoe fits.

Except it appears to be a "he". Mind you, that hair

Bennett certainly has previous for trying to do people over by leaking information and having it blow up in her face, starting with those women who were on that educational benefit.

Except yesterday listening to Mark Sainsbury as I worked a guy called in near the end of the show and sounded very much like he did know who it was, he said it was a he, then later on a reporter said "he" obviously by mistake and corrected by using a non gender pronoun. Till then, I thought it was more likely female as well. Anyway, Bridges will want to confirm whether the person in question is indeed in the midst of mental health issues for real and if so, will probably need to assess whether they are capable of continuing or allow them time out to recover or discover it is all BS and out them. I think in time, we will be able to put two and two together.

I think BS. As in, once they knew who it was, it's just too embarrassing and damaging to allow an investigation which might uncover that and make it public, so they've pulled some bullshit mental illness story to try and exploit our compassion so we won't ask too many awkward questions. God knows the place is full of personality disorders, narcissists and psychopaths, but anyone with genuine depression or bipolar disorder would surely have been removed long ago.

I give up where the mental illness goes, but I really did get the impression the culprit is male. It was let out by the reporter in much the same way Clarke Gayford let it slip his baby would be a girl. The guy who rang was quite definite about his use of he and him.

Why would you blindly take anything in that message at face value. It needs to be treated sensitively but also with mindfulness that it is most likely an utter stitch-up. My money is on the opposite of everything assumed from text - Labour, woman, not mentally-ill, but in need of an excuse.and diversion

The only thing that we seem to truly know is that it came from National, so I guess we can safely assume you have everything else wrong as well.

Why would you blindly take anything in that message at face value. It needs to be treated sensitively but also with mindfulness that it is most likely an utter stitch-up. My money is on the opposite of everything assumed from text - Labour, woman, not mentally-ill, but in need of an excuse.and diversion

Why would you blindly take anything in that message at face value. It needs to be treated sensitively but also with mindfulness that it is most likely an utter stitch-up. My money is on the opposite of everything assumed from text - Labour, woman, not mentally-ill, but in need of an excuse.and diversion

I say Paula Bennett................................

A caucus member doesn't want to be in the spotlight? Might have picked the wrong job there.

Doc has been looking fairly deranged for a decade or two.

Simon Bridges needs to be careful, its not a good look , if National wants to win the General Election.

People will think, why is he is making a big deal out of this, when the use of Public money should declared openly any way. When there are more important issues that National should looking at.

He is unwittingly helping Labour, by showing his lack of experience in politics and the average punter will see this, ,

Simon

Why on earth should expenses be confidential when we’re paying for them? As for mental issues, you could include 80%+ of our politicians in that bracket, so a wide pool to choose from.
“The chances are that a man cannot get into congress now without resorting to arts and means that should render him unfit to be there”- Mark Twain, The Gilded Age, 1873.
What has changed since then? Not a lot...including our own parliament.

Let's just cut to the chase here. This individual is threatening suicide if their name is revealed. This has put Simon in an awkward situation.
But I could be being naive and Kakapo is right and this is all a complete fraud.

Hardly awkward - all he needed to do was show the compassion and common sense that Trevor Mallard did;

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/08/opinion-bridges-should-h...

I don't think he should give in to emotional blackmail.
Not awkward? So when someone threatens violence you should just give in immediately?

The someone has threatened violence on themselves, it is not a case of "giving in" immediately, but its definitely a case to back off and assess the situation, in this case, it is not Trevor Mallard's job

It's actually pretty disgraceful for Mallard to try and score some points from this "awkward" situation. But, you know, "politics".

Score points?? Oh well, what else can we expect from a Nat supporter, but, you know, "politics".

Look, we've all watched Game of Thrones. No one should expect any mercy in this snake pit. This is all just a ruthless game and what's his name dodged a bullet here what with all the focus on mental issues lately. I'm bracing myself for an avalanche of "mental illness".

*Sigh*

I'm not sure I believe that the police would not reveal the identity of the leaker to a victim (Simon Bridges) who is still potentially exposed the the offenders influence. Sounds very odd. Seems more like the police have ventured further into politics and either the police and Bridges agreed that the police wouldn't disclose the person or else the police wish to protect the leaker thus undermining the National party. If so, it would be another sorry step into a police state.

Long term mental illness? Get out of politics - like yesterday.

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