Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Rebstock's witch-hunt fails

Last year, after leaks from MFAT undermined the government's plans to cut the diplomatic service, the government got Paula Rebstock to start a witchhunt for the leaker. A year on, it looks as if the report will never see the light of day: Rebstock doesn't have any evidence against her prime suspect, and they are taking legal action to prevent the report from being delivered:

In the High Court at Wellington yesterday, the lawyer for a person known only as "A" said the report by inquiry head Paula Rebstock voiced a "strong suspicion" that his client was responsible for the unauthorised disclosure of sensitive Cabinet documents, but offered no evidence to back it up.


"A" is challenging Ms Rebstock's right to issue a final report.

Lawyer Jason McHerron told the court it was clear Ms Rebstock intended to proceed to find that "A" was responsible for the unauthorised disclosure of two Cabinet committee papers at the centre of the leak inquiry.

That was despite "A" denying being responsible.

According to an earlier report, "A" had provided a statutory declaration, so Rebstock was basically accusing them of perjury. Given its criminal nature, that's the sort of claim which should require strong evidence. Likewise, given the employment and reputational consequences, a "strong suspicion" isn't enough. Both natural justice, and the threat of employment and defamation suits, demand better.

Meanwhile, this farce has cost us $250,000 and found nothing. Heckuva job Paula, you'Ve really earned your pay.