WInston Peters has accepted that then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley did not leak the overpayment of his superannuation to the media.
However, his lawyer is still laying blame for the leak on the Ministry of Social Development.
Crown lawyer Victoria Casey QC gave her closing arguments this morning and argued that Winston Peters’ claim his privacy was breached “falls away entirely” when held up against the law. . .
Casey told Justice Venning the only question he needs to consider is whether her clients’ decision to brief their ministers under the “no surprises” convention breached a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether it was “highly offensive”.
“The questions is not does the court agree with these decisions to brief, or even whether the court has any reservations about the decisions to brief,” she said. . .
None of them establish whether there was a reasonable expectation in private facts. None of them establish that the communication from the chief executives to the ministers constitute highly offensive publication.
“Winston Peters could not have had a reasonable expectation public agencies with such information would not tell their ministers who have accountability to the House,” she said.
Casey also spoke of the high stakes for her clients, because these allegations go to the heart of their integrity.
She warned that if Peters’ complaints are upheld it would be “catastrophic” and career-ending for them.
“I ask the court to pay due attention to the chilling effect on the public sector and the reputational impact of even a passing comment by the High Court of the judgments exercised by these two senior public servants.
“I submit that it is appropriate that the court should exercise real caution before engaging in a review of matters that are beyond the scope of the pleaded claim,” she said. . .
What a waste of time, and public money this has been.
Peters has breached his own privacy and that of his partner by exposing them to a couple of weeks’ publicity that has done neither of them any credit.
And sadly while might have put some wavering voters off him and his party, it could also have confirmed the views of the deluded who support him that, in spite of the evidence to the contrary that this is a mess of his own making, he is somehow a victim.
The media has given very good coverage of the trail but it’s hard to beat Cactus Kate for pithiness in these posts: