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Investigation into SSC conduct of MFAT leaks inquiry

21 Jun 2016

This investigation was triggered by a complaint about an inquiry by the State Services Commission (SSC), which culminated in the publication of the Report to the State Services Commissioner on the Investigation into the Possible Unauthorised Disclosure of Information Relating to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the Final Report).

The complainant, Derek Leask, was a former New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. He retired in November 2012, after more than 40 years’ service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Mr Leask was the subject of significant criticism in the Final Report. He complained to the Ombudsman that he had been treated unfairly. This review has identified numerous flaws in the inquiry, undertaken by Paula Rebstock on behalf of the Commissioner, in relation to Mr Leask. He was not responsible for the leaks that prompted the inquiry. Publication of a flawed report caused significant damage to Mr Leask’s reputation and resulted in serious, unwarranted and adverse professional, personal and financial consequences for him.

The review recommends that SSC offer a public apology to Mr Leask, reimburse him for actual and reasonable expenses, compensate him for harm to reputation and review its guidance for future inquiries under the State Services Act 1988, in light of this report.

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