Geoff Thorn. Photo NZ Herald
Former head of Parliamentary Service Geoff Thorn has
refused to answer MPs' questions about whether he was told to
resign over his role in the GCSB leak inquiry.
His refusal to answer those questions this morning has
fuelled speculation he was effectively made a scapegoat over
the inquiry which has been criticised for breaching the
privacy of ministers and Fairfax reporter Andrea Vance.
Mr Thorn this morning faced questions from Parliament's
privileges committee, which is examining events around the
release of Vance's phone, email and swipe card records to the
Mr Thorn acknowledged his "failing" in not setting a process
for engagement with the inquiry and for dealing with its
He later said that failing meant he was unable to provide
accurate information when the Government was facing
parliamentary questions on the matter.
Mr Thorn said he had difficulty in establishing the facts of
what had taken place during the interaction between the
inquiry and Parliamentary Service.
"I let myself, and the Speaker down," he said.
He also believed he had let down Parliamentary Service and
ministers and that was why he had resigned.
However, in response to questions from Act leader John Banks,
who has suggested Mr Thorn was forced to resign, he said he
did not believe he was a scapegoat.
Asked by Labour's Chris Hipkins whether anyone had indicated
to him or told him he should resign, he said: "I prefer not
to answer that question".
After the committee meeting, Mr Banks told reporters Mr Thorn
had behaved honourably and his decision to resign was the
right one "on the basis of the evidence".
However, Mr Banks also said it was "absolutely" telling that
Mr Thorn wouldn't answer questions about whether he was
pushed out of his $300,000-a-year job.
"In the absence of him giving a clear directive to the
question you'd have to say, on balance, he was pushed."
Mr Banks said he had no idea who may have done that.
NZ First Leader Winston Peters said Mr Thorn had been made a
scapegoat, "and I thought so from the word go".
- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald