Heron lets National off the hook | The Jackal

31 Jul 2020

Heron lets National off the hook

Michelle Boag - Leaker
The Heron report (PDF) was released yesterday, and it was a bit disappointing to say the least. It correctly found that former National Party president Michelle Boag and National Party MP Hamish Walker were politically motivated in leaking peoples private medical information, but didn’t look further into who else within the National Party was involved in using the sensitive information for political gain. It didn’t even properly look into Boag’s previous leaks in her capacity as acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust to National MP Michael Woodhouse, or seek evidence to corroborate his very questionable side of the story.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Covid-19 patient leak: Hamish Walker sent private patient details after being labelled racist, inquiry finds 

Disgraced National MP Hamish Walker sent private Covid-19 details because his judgment was impaired after being called racist, an inquiry has found. 
And former National party president Michelle Boag sent the highly sensitive information to Walker in an attempt to help clear his name. 
The investigation, headed by former solicitor general Michael Heron, QC, was tasked with getting to the bottom of the leak and investigate whether patient data could have been kept more secure. 
Heron did not forensically examine Boag, Walker or Woodhouse's email addresses or computers and took them at their word. 
He said it was "a fair comment" that these people shouldn't be taken at their word given their actions, but said he had no reason not to believe them.

We shouldn’t take them at their word, but I took them at their word anyway?

It should be patently obvious to all involved that we shouldn’t believe people who would leak private medical information for political gain. The altruistic reasons Boag provides for leaking sensitive information to the National Party are clearly false, which should have been exposed more distinctly in this report.

Heron should have also investigated Michelle Boag’s other leaks, and what the National Party did with that information. But here we are, with the report stating:

Ms Boag had earlier provided similar personal information (but different spreadsheets) to Michael Woodhouse, MP. I received information relating to those other occasions from Ms Boag and proactively from Mr Woodhouse. Mr Woodhouse advised he did not forward such information on and has now deleted it. I considered whether I should pursue the deletion further with Mr Woodhouse, but ultimately because the information was similar in nature and it was not central to my inquiry, I determined it was not necessary to pursue it. I accept Mr Woodhouse deleted the information. Ideally, he would have counselled Ms Boag not to disclose such information and/or alerted the Ministry or Minister.

Michael Woodhouse - Leak recipient
Why would you accept what Michael Woodhouse says at face value, when he has recently been caught lying about a homeless person he claimed received free lodging at a COVID-19 isolation facility in Auckland?

Heron has unfortunately let the National Party off the hook, which isn’t a good result for ensuring our elected officials are held to account for their unacceptable and in my opinion illegal behaviour.

Leaking private medical information for political gain is an atrocious abuse of power, and hopefully we will see some further action taken against the known perpetrators. Hopefully we will also uncover who else within the National Party received the sensitive information that was leaked for political gain, because the rot obviously doesn’t just stop at Walker and Boag. In fact it likely goes to the very core of the very grubby National Party.