Refusal to divulge facts under inquiry

01:26, Nov 24 2012

Ombudsman David McGee advised Education Secretary Lesley Longstone about his investigation this week.

He will investigate an allegation that the Education Ministry advised Christchurch City Council to refuse a request for official information on the basis that the information was not held by the council, when the ministry knew it was.

McGee will also look into complaints that the ministry advised one person to withdraw a request, suggesting that if he did, he would receive the information sooner, and that several requests were refused, at least in part, on the basis that the information would eventually be made public.

A ministry spokesman said the publication of the information yesterday had nothing to do with the ombudsman's investigation, but was "because of the high level of public interest in the . . . renewal programme and the ministry's commitment to transparency".

This information was not made public earlier because affected schools had all the information required for a "effective consultation process".

"Data on demographics and alternative proposals considered for schools is included," he said.

"Now we're releasing the interim business case to alleviate any concerns people may have about it and to be seen to be absolutely transparent."

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