Little demands ACC answers

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 20:46 14/06/2012

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Labour MP Andrew Little has called for some ''straight answers'' from ACC minister Judith Collins about her role in the decision to lay a police complaint against whistleblower Bronwyn Pullar.

Police last night confirmed  they had three approaches from ACC chiefs in the wake of Dominion Post revelations about privacy breaches.

Ms Collins said this week the matter was ''referred'' to police on March 13, the day the story broke.

A spokesman said the official complaint was not laid until March 19 but contact was made on the March 13 ''regarding a privacy matter'' and again three days later about a matter ''of a potential criminal nature''.

Ms Collins has insisted the board made the decision to go to police alone.

Mr Little  - who is being sued by Ms Collins for defamation -  said police have offered "a different version of events''.

"The information raises serious questions about whether the Minister has misled MPs and New Zealanders. In Parliament today, I asked her what meetings or discussions she had with the ACC chief executive or chairman about the agency laying a complaint over the Bronwyn Pullar affair.''

He asked her if she had ever described the conduct of Ms Pullar or her advocate Michelle Boag as "extortion or blackmail".

"`She stated that 'the actions were referred to the police before this matter was discussed with me as to what had actually happened'.''

A further meeting of the chair and chief executive was called on March 14 where Ms Collins said she was briefed "a day after the matter was referred to the police".

Mr Little said the police statement is in "direct contradiction'' to the claim by Ms Collins that a complaint was laid on March 13.

"The facts provided by police show that Judith Collins had ample opportunity to discuss and influence a decision to lay a complaint about Bronwyn Pullar and Michelle Boag.''

Ms Collins told Parliament today: ''I had no discussions with [Mr Stewart] about referring it to the police. It was his decision. And, in fact, to say otherwise is quite wrong.''

Chief executive Ralph Stewart quit his $600,000-a-year job this week - following chairman John Judge, deputy John McCliskie, board member Rob Campbell and Cabinet minister Nick Smith as casualties.

Mr Stewart and Mr Judge faced criticism over their decision to lay the complaint alleging she had tried to blackmail ACC managers. Police found Ms Pullar had no case to answer.

Both the Auditor General and Privacy Commission are investigating.

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