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MFAT leak inquiry slammed by ombudsman

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/06/2016

MFAT LEAK INQUIRY SLAMMED BY THE OMBUDSMAN

The ombudsman Ron Paterson has just released his report on what he's labelled the "flawed" inquiry into the leak of confidential Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade documents.

WHERE DID THIS ALL START?

* Back in 2012, amid a row over plans to axe 300 jobs at MFAT, Labour MP Phil Goff was leaked a number of highly confidential MFAT documents

* State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie ordered an investigation to find out who exactly did the leaking

* High-profile public servant Paula Rebstock was appointed to head up the inquiry

THE REBSTOCK REPORT

* The Rebstock report into the MFAT leak was released in late 2013

* It pinpointed the likely leaker - a temporary worker at the State Services Commission - but found no conclusive evidence

* The report also singled out two senior managers for their conduct - they weren't named but were easily identified as long-serving public servant Nigel Fyfe and former diplomat Derek Leask

THE OMBUDSMAN GETS INVOLVED

* Leask complained to the ombudsman about the Rebstock report - he believed it was unfair and made serious accusations without factual findings to back them up

* Ombudsman Ron Paterson agreed to investigate and he released his report on Thursday

WHAT THE OMBUDSMAN'S REPORT SAYS

* The findings in relation to Leask in the Rebstock report exceeded the terms of reference for the inquiry

* In several respects he was not treated fairly

* The way the evidence was portrayed in the Rebstock report didn't fairly represent Leask's actions

* The publication of the report in a manner that identified Leask and contained unfair criticisms of him was unjust

* Paterson has recommended Leask get a public apology and compensation

WHAT PATERSON SAYS

"Publication of a flawed report caused significant damage to Mr Leask's reputation and resulted in serious, unwarranted and adverse professional, personal and financial consequences for him."

WHAT LEASK SAYS

"The 2013 findings against me and against other MFAT staff have been rubbished. It is good to have the slur on my reputation removed. Today's findings by the ombudsman go beyond the vindication of my actions."

WHAT RENNIE SAYS

"I don't agree with all elements of the ombudsman's findings, in particular that in making findings relating to Mr Leask the investigation was outside its terms of reference. I disagree with the ombudsman on this point."

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