David Henry during his appearance before the privileges
committee hearing. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Justice Minister Judith Collins says it was "chilling" to
discover that the David Henry inquiry into the GCSB report leak
had treated the privacy of ministers' and staff information in
a "contemptuous way".
Ms Collins made the claim at the privileges committee hearing
into how a parliamentary reporter's phone records and swipe
cards came to be given to the inquiry into the leak.
But the questioning of Mr Henry has been wider than just the
Ms Collins is on the privileges committee and is the first
minister to openly criticise the way Mr Henry conducted the
She asked why he had thought ministers had given permission
for their records to be handed over and he said he had
assumed it had been authorised.
Mr Henry told the committee he had a reasonable expectation
that material he had, had been given with the appropriate
The inquiry was set up by the heads of the GCSB spy agency,
Ian Fletcher, and the head of the Department of Prime
Minister and Cabinet, Andrew Kibblewhite.
United Future leader Peter Dunne was the chief suspect of the
media leak and after he refused to co-operate with the
inquiry was forced to resign.
Mr Henry said at no time did the inquiry request the phone
records of the reporter, Andrea Vance, although he did asked
for the swipe card records in and out of Parliament of her
and Mr Dunne relating to the time he believed the report had
Police Minister Anne Tolley told Mr Henry she was surprised
that Mr Henry did not seek the advice of Speaker David Carter
to clarify rules about parliamentary privilege.
"With 20-20 hindsight that might have been a wise thing to
do," Mr Henry said but he had assumed that Parliamentary
Service, which reported to the Speaker, knew the rules.
Andrea Vance's phone records were sent to the inquiry by
Parliamentary Service but were not accessed.
The records of ministers and staff were sent on the
understanding that Prime Minister John Key expected his
ministers to comply with the leak inquiry. His chief of staff
Wayne Eagleson wrote to all ministers officers to set out
Under questioning form Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia Mr
Henry said he did not believe it was his job to find out
whether he had authority to obtain various records. He left
that to Parliamentary Service.
"I had reasonable grounds to expect that Parliamentary
Service knew what they were doing."
Former head of Parliamentary Service Geoff Thorn, who
resigned in the wake of the debacle said in his submission:
"It is important to say that at no time was I, as general
manager, approached formally or informally by either Mr Henry
or any member of his inquiry team.
"There was never any communication to me about the legal
status of the inquiry, its terms of reference, or the basis
on which information was being requested.
"In hindsight I believe this was a contributing factor to the
errors that subsequently occurred."
Act leader John Banks suggested during his line of
questioning that the Henry inquiry had "trampled on the
rights and freedoms of Members of Parliament and the fourth
estate in a very cavalier manner."
Asked how he would conduct his inquiry differently, Mr Henry
said he would know that the journalist's security access
records were not particularly useful and that hindsight was a
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters began his engagement
with Mr Henry by questioning his suitability for the role,
given his record as former Commissioner of Inland Revenue
during the Winebox inquiry.
Mr Henry said that the evidence of both men had been written
into the Winebox inquiry report and was there for anyone who
was interested to see.
Under questioning Mr Eagleson, Mr Key's chief of staff, said
if there were a repeat situation, he would approach
individual ministers with a piece of paper to ask their
permission to release their records.
Mr Kibblewhite said that from the outset of commissioning the
inquiry, it had never been anticipated that it would involve
The terms of reference made it clear that the subject of the
inquiry were those people, including himself and ministers,
who had been given an advance copy of the Rebecca Kitteridge
report on whether the GCBS spy agency operated within the
Under questioning from Labour's David Parker Mr Kibblewhite
refused to state that a journalist's access records to
Parliament should never be used in an inquiry.
If there were material matters of security involved, there
could be circumstances in which it was appropriate to hand
over a journalist's records.
He would not be drawn on whether that should relate only to
Under questioning from Mr Peters, Mr Kibblewhite revealed
that the Intelligence and Security Committee - of which Mr
Dunne was previously a member - had been concerned that a
discussion it had had about morale in the GCSB had ended up
in an article written by Vance.
"I was concerned there had been a leak from the committee.
The committee itself had a conversation itself about the
importance of not leaking," he said.
He did not agree with Mr Peters that Mr Henry's inquiry had
been "a botch-up".
He acknowledged some mistakes had been made in the
information that had been handed over. But at a cost of
$42,000 it had been "a short, sharp, effective inquiry".
Mr Kibblewhite disagreed with a suggestion by Mr Banks that
it had been a mistake to appoint Mr Henry to conduct the
Mr Banks said it had been unfortunate and very unfair that Mr
Thorn had lost his job as a result of the inquiry.