Ministry of Social Development, Internal Affairs find no evidence of Winston Peters' pension leaker

NZ First leader Winston Peters's personal pension information was leaked to the media.
TOM LEE/STUFF

NZ First leader Winston Peters's personal pension information was leaked to the media.

The Ministry of Social Development and the department that employs Beehive staffers have both drawn a blank in the "whodunnit" saga surrounding the leak of NZ First leader Winston Peters' personal pension information. 

They join Inland Revenue in confirming, following investigations, they can find no evidence staff leaked details of Peters' superannuation overpayment. 

"Following information regarding Mr Winston Peter's Superannuation payments entering the public arena, the Ministry launched an investigation to assess whether there was any indication that a Ministry employee may have been the source of the information.

"That process is now complete, and we can confirm that all staff that had access to the relevant information had a reasonable business purpose for accessing it, and there is no evidence that this information was passed to a third party," MSD said in statement. 

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"Both data searches and staff interviews were employed in this investigation," it confirmed. 

If any new information came to light, the ministry would reopen investigations "as necessary".

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs - which runs Ministerial Services - said it had investigated whether any Ministerial Services staff received or passed on information regarding Peters' superannuation matter.

"The investigation process included a search of digital records and a series of interviews with Ministerial Services staff. It found that five Ministerial Services employees had received the information before it was reported by media. There was no evidence that the information was provided to media or third parties by these staff members."

"The Department takes privacy seriously, and upholding the confidentiality of information forms part of the Code of Conduct all employees sign. If further information comes to light, the Department will undertake further inquiries as necessary."

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Last month, Peters confirmed an error had resulted in him being overpaid the pension for a number of years. He has refused to reveal the amount, but confirmed he paid it back within 24 hours of it being discovered. 

Peters' decision to release the details pre-empted media reports based on an anonymous tip and three investigations were launched into its source. It's a crime to leak personal tax information. 

Senior officials from both the Ministry of Social Development and the State Services Commission briefed their ministers under the "no surprises" convention. 

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett have confirmed that under the "no surprises policy".they were told Peters had received a superannuation overpayment and had paid it back.  The prime minister's chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, was also told. 

Peters has accused National of a deliberate "take-down", which leader Bill English has denied. Peters also has his own lawyers investigating.

 - Stuff

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