Smith could return to Cabinet - Key

21:10, Jun 05 2012

Former ACC Minister Nick Smith could be back in Cabinet if further inquiries clear him.

Police yesterday announced that no charges will be laid over ACC's extortion allegation against whistleblower, Bronwyn Pullar.

ACC made the allegation in a report in March to its Minister Judith Collins after Pullar revealed in The Dominion Post a massive privacy breach by the corporation.

Pullar was a close friend of Smith's and the privacy breach revealed he had weighed into her case in support of her claim while he was ACC Minister.

He was forced to resign over the perceived conflict of interest.

Asked today if the police decision meant Smith could be back in Cabinet Prime Minister John Key said he could not rule that out but it depended on the outcome of other inquires, including by the Privacy Commissioner.

But he said Cabinet missed Smith's experience.

"He's very capable so we miss him; he's by far our most experienced person when it comes to the environment [portfolio]... I'm certainly not ruling that out, but we just need to see how this thing completely plays out and what comes out [of the inquiries].

His view had always been that Smith made a mistake but he didn't act intentionally, or dishonestly, Key said.

"But unfortunately he put himself in a position no Cabinet minister wants to; that was where accusations of a conflict of interest could stick to him."