Friday, February 12, 2010

Neeson's shoddy vetting

In his Cabinet paper on the appointment of Brian Neeson and others to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, Justice Minister Simon Power confirms that

an appropriate process has been followed in selecting the proposed appointees, in terms of the SSC appointment guidelines
Those guidelines recommend that departments ask candidates about potential conflicts of interest and conduct appropriate due diligence checks, by (for example) searching the Companies Office website for directorships. So, did Ministry of Justice staff do this?

Apparently not. Neeson's standardised curriculum vitae form in the Cabinet Paper lists his private and/or voluntary sector board appointments held as "None indicated". Yet a search of the companies office website reveals that he is a director of two companies: Apollo Property Investment Limited (currently in the process of being deregistered), and B K & V S Neeson Limited. There's no suggestion that either of these would constitute a conflict of interest with the HRRT - but the fact that he did not bother to mention them, when other candidates made a much fuller disclosure, and that the Department apparently did not check, is not a good look.