The inquiry found the NZSIS released incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information in response to Mr Slater’s request, and provided some of the same incorrect information to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office.
“These errors resulted in misplaced criticism of the then Leader of the Opposition, Hon Phil Goff MP. Mr Goff is owed a formal apology by the Service,” said Ms Gwyn.
Ms Gwyn found no evidence of political partisanship by the NZSIS but did find that the NZSIS failed to take adequate steps to maintain political neutrality.
Having released inaccurate information that was predictably misinterpreted, the then Director of the Service had a responsibility to take positive steps to correct the interpretation. He failed to do so,” said Ms Gwyn.
Ms Gwyn said she had also investigated allegations, made before and during the course of the inquiry, that NZSIS officers had acted in collusion with Mr Slater or under direction from the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister’s Office. Ms Gwyn said that these allegations were particularly serious and that she had made full use of her statutory powers to investigate them.
From that thorough investigation, I do not believe that any NZSIS staff member contacted Mr Slater to instigate his OIA request. Nor have I found any collusion or direction between the NZSIS and the Prime Minister or his Office.”
Ms Gwyn went to on comment that she had, however, established that a staff member of the Prime Minister’s office had provided unclassified NZSIS information to Mr Slater. However, that information was understood by the Prime Minister’s Office to have been provided for media purposes and there was no breach of confidence towards NZSIS in that disclosure.
That disclosure did not breach any confidentiality or security obligations owed by those staff to the NZSIS. No classified information was disclosed to Mr Slater.” Said Ms Gwyn. . .
That doesn’t reflect well on the SIS but it did not find a smoking gun in the hand of the PM the opposition was hoping it to.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. In fact, the report does not show that my office was deeply involved. There were a series of claims made and not a single one of them has stacked up. That is why Phil Goff had to leak the report yesterday, because he knew it would not stand up on its own merits. . .
Goff wanted maximum publicity and to inflict maximum damage on the PM and the only way he could do that was selectively leaking the bits of the report which fitted his narrative.
The full report is here.
It raises serious questions about the behaviour of the SIS at the time.
It will exercise political tragics and cofirm existing biases.
It doesn’t, as Goff and the opposition hoped, damn the PM both of whom should be reassured that the SIS has learned from mistakes made.