Under-pressure Justice Minister Judith Collins has had to
backtrack this morning, after mistakenly saying the Privacy
Commissioner had cleared her of wrong-doing in giving the
details of a public servant to Whale Oil blogger Cameron
But Privacy Commissioner John Edwards did no such thing, and
suggested that he would investigate if the public servant in
question, Internal Affairs official Simon Pleasants, laid a
Ms Collins' actions were exposed in Nicky Hager's Dirty
Politics. She gave the details of Mr Pleasants to Mr Slater,
who published them, leading Mr Pleasants to be abused on his
The blog accused Mr Pleasants of leaking information to the
Labour Party - which he has said is completely false - and he
was subsequently the target of death threats.
Prime Minister John Key has called Ms Collins' actions
"unwise" and put her on a final warning, but has stood by her
amid calls for her resignation.
The Green Party asked the Privacy Commissioner to investigate
the matter, but he declined.
Last night Ms Collins, who has championed legislation on
cyber-bullying, told Radio New Zealand: "I have been cleared
by the Privacy Commissioner... and I do not want to go into
any detail on matters which are currently the subject of
In a post yesterday, Mr Edwards said the law was there to
protect the right of a person to determine what personal
information is put into the public domain.
"That purpose would not be served if we were to investigate a
complaint in a highly politicised and publicised environment
that is neither on behalf of, nor supported by, the affected
The complainant - the Greens - did not have sufficient
personal interest, he said.
This morning Ms Collins' office issued a statement saying she
had got it wrong.
"The Minister interpreted from media reports that she had
been cleared by the Privacy Commissioner as he would not take
a complaint from the Green Party further due to lack of
"The Minister understands her interpretation was incorrect as
should a complaint come directly from Mr Pleasants - the PC
would consider it."
Radio New Zealand reported this morning that Mr Pleasants was
not going to lay a complaint because it was a political
matter, and he is a neutral public servant.
On Radio New Zealand this morning Green Party co-leader
Metiria Turei said she had not discussed the matter with Mr
Pleasants before she made a complaint on his behalf to the
"We now have a cabinet minister who has admitted to passing
on private information she obtained as a minister to Cameron
Slater that led to the public disclosure of the information.
"We have a serious public interest in investigating that
claim and the only agency who can do that is a genuinely
independent one from the political realm," Ms Turei said.
Ms Collins last night refused to be drawn on whether she had
effectively engaged in cyber-bullying by passing on Mr
Pleasants' details, but she said she did not condone the
"It's the sort of thing that happens, and it's really
unfortunate ... Those sorts of things are criminals
activities that should be investigated and any complaints
obviously made to police."
Collins also defended her friendship with Slater.
"Just because he is a friend of mine - as by the way are many
hundreds of other people - does not mean to say that I
condone everything that anybody who is a friend of mine does.
"That is the nature of friendship. You put up with your
friends no matter what if you're a loyal friend. And I'm a
very loyal person."
- by Derek Cheng, NZ Herald