National Party launches own inquiry into expense leak

Jo Moir

The National Party is boxing ahead with its own investigation into who leaked Simon Bridges’ expenses to the media after Parliament’s speaker put the kibosh on an official inquiry last week.

On August 24,2018, RNZ revealed that a person claiming to be a National MP had sent a text message to Mr Bridges and the Speaker Trevor Mallard, pleading for the inquiry to be stopped for the sake of their mental health.

Speaker pulls the plug

That led to Mr Mallard pulling the plug on the inquiry saying it was unlikely the text had been sent from anyone outside the National Party. Mr Bridges remains unconvinced that the leaker of his travel expenses is an MP from his own party.

“I am going to do my part. I am going to have an investigation and get to the bottom, if I can, if it is a National MP who is unwell and who needs help,” he told Morning Report .

“But the problem at the moment is that I do not have a safe basis to say that it is. It may well be someone in the wider parliamentary system or indeed further afield than that.”

Mr Bridges said he had kept Mr Mallard informed of the police investigation, and on August 23, 2018, he was continuing with an inquiry, announcing it was to be led by a QC.

“On Friday afternoon he stopped it – he canned it. The only thing that has changed that I can see is the Prime Minister saying it’s internal matter of the National Party.”

Identity not known

Mr Bridges said neither Mr Mallard nor Jacinda Ardern know the identity of the leaker.

“The Speaker had an investigation ongoing. He stopped in for no basis that I can see other than that the Prime Minister had said it was an internal matter for the National Party.”

He said that the Police told him they would ensure the person had all the wraparound support they needed.

Shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said that the National Party needed to know who the leaker was and will push ahead with uncovering the person’s identity, after Mr Mallard had washed his hands of an inquiry.

“Well of course, we think he’s obfuscated his role as Speaker, but he did so after the Prime Minister had declared it was a problem for the National Party.

“We will now obviously conduct an inquiry, because we need to know who that person is, to either stamp out a problem, or to in fact wrap around someone who has some serious issues,’’ Mr Brownlee said.

Anonymous Text

On August 16, 2018, Mr Bridges and Mr Mallard received an anonymous text from the person who leaked the Opposition Leader’s expenses, saying if the inquiry exposed them publicly it would push them over the edge and put their life at risk.

The leaker provided information and details from caucus meetings over a period of weeks in order to prove their identity as a National Party MP.

Mr Bridges met with Police about the matter the next day and on Sunday, August 19, 2018, they contacted him to say they knew who the person was but would not be revealing their identity.

Jo Moir is a Political Reporter at Radio New Zealand. Indian Newslink has published the above Report and Picture under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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Photo Caption:

Simon Bridges (Centre) speaking to media about the leak of a text from the person behind an earlier leak on his expense spending. 

(Photo for RNZ by Rebekah Parsons-King)

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