Who dunnit still matters

Why did Trevor Mallard stop the investigation into the leaking of Simon Bridges’ travel expenses?

. . .To recap; Mallard pulled the inquiry led by Michael Heron, QC, after it was revealed police had established the identity of the person who sent a text to the Speaker and Bridges claiming to be the same person who leaked details of the National leader’s travel expenses.

The text implored them to drop the inquiry, citing mental health issues.Bridges sought advice from a mental health expert and police who, it seems, established the identity of the leaker very quickly.

Police advised Bridges the person was receiving appropriate support for their mental health, but refused to give him their identity for privacy reasons.

That suggests they were able to access the information from the phone company concerned on the grounds of concern for the person’s safety.

That might have been where things were left except details of the text – which went to just Mallard and Bridges – were then leaked to RNZ.

And those details included some that suggested the person had inside knowledge of what went on inside the National Party caucus room.

Mallard called off the inquiry on that basis, implying that, as it was clearly a National MP, it was now a matter for an internal inquiry, rather than one conducted under his auspices.

Except Stuff has been told the text was by no means incontrovertible evidence of an inside job – and while some of the information supplied by the texter could suggest they were a National MP, that information could also have been picked up or deduced by a wider circle of people, including staff.

We have not been shown the text, so there is no way of verifying that. . . 

Mallard had known about the text when he announced who would lead the inquiry.

What happened between that announcement on Thursday and the decision to can the inquiry on Friday?

He said it was unlikely the person who texted was outside the National Party but unlikely isn’t good enough.

The texter has thrown suspicion on everyone in the National caucus, at least some of their staff and people who work for parliamentary services, and MPs and staff from other parties.

. . .Police said they had dealt with the matter “entirely from a mental health perspective”.

The texter had claimed to be inside the National Party and had leaked Bridges’ expenses to punish him for being arrogant. . . 

Giving appropriate support for the leaker’s mental health issues is the first priority, that includes establishing whether or not the person is able to do his or her work properly while getting the help that is needed.

But those issues don’t absolve the leaker of blame nor should they protect her or him from consequences when s/he is showing no contrition and serious misjudgment, and putting so many people under a cloud of suspicion.

And Mental health issues or not, whodunnit still matters.

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