ACC report contains 'blatant lies'

PHIL KITCHIN
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2012

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ACC is accused of trying to justify "blatant lies" in a report containing allegations of extortion against whistle-blower Bronwyn Pullar.

Police announced yesterday they had dropped their inquiry into extortion allegations made against Ms Pullar by ACC.

"How can the minister [Judith Collins] have confidence in her chairman [John Judge] who continues to stand behind a report that contains blatant lies?" Ms Pullar said. "If government boards and senior management can get away with this type of behaviour, it sets a new low in what ministers can expect in ministerial advice."

The extortion allegations are in an ACC report to Ms Collins after Ms Pullar blew the whistle on a mass privacy breach by the corporation earlier this year.

However, after yesterday's announcement, ACC defended its decision to refer Ms Pullar – a brain-injury client – to police.

ACC made the allegations three days after The Dominion Post revealed in March that Ms Pullar was sent an email containing private details of 6500 clients, including sexual-abuse victims.

The ACC report – made public on Ms Collins' instructions – said Ms Pullar demanded a guaranteed two-year benefit at a meeting in December and threatened to withhold the privacy-breach details and go to the media if she did not get it.

Last month The Dominion Post revealed a tape-recording of the meeting, made by Ms Pullar, showed ACC had misled Ms Collins and the public in its report.

Nowhere in the tape-recording did Ms Pullar make the statements the ACC report said she did.

The recording reveals the meeting ended with handshakes, laughter and "thank yous" from the ACC managers, Ms Pullar and Michelle Boag, her friend and support person.

"Had I not recorded the meeting, it is possible I may have faced criminal charges based on completely false allegations," Ms Pullar said.

However, Mr Judge and ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart stood by the report yesterday.

"I am completely confident the report was complete and accurate," Mr Judge said.

ACC managers at the meeting "considered that a threat had been made", he said.

Mr Stewart said "from ACC's perspective the matter was closed", but he would act the same way if faced with the same circumstances.

Ms Pullar said it was disgraceful a government agency could mislead its minister and the public and make serious and unsubstantiated criminal allegations against a client.

"It is inconceivable that ACC and the board chairman are continuing to try to justify blatant lies contained in a public report," she said.

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Two months ago, she provided Mr Stewart and ACC's board secretary with a transcript of the recording and let them hear the recording "yet ACC have refused to provide me with their manager's notes from the meeting".

Ms Pullar said she was not surprised at the police decision to drop the investigation. If ACC had bothered speaking to her before issuing its report publicly, the matter could have been cleared up "in minutes".

She was sorry police had wasted time on the investigation.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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