Curran releases information on RNZ saga

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran. Photo: NZ Herald
Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran. Photo: NZ Herald

The office of Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran has released a raft of documents, text messages and other information, including a voicemail left on her phone by Radio New Zealand chairman Richard Griffin.

The documents, loaded on to the Beehive website late today, are Curran's response to requests made under the Official Information Act in the wake of the resignation of RNZ's former head of content Carol Hirschfeld.

The large wad of documents contained many redactions but no smoking gun.

Hirschfeld was forced to resign from RNZ after repeatedly lying to her bosses about a meeting she had with Curran at a Wellington cafe in December.

They both had said it was a chance meeting but it later emerged that it had been arranged earlier.

The documents released today do not indicate that the pair had any further meetings alone.

Griffin and RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson were forced to return to a parliamentary committee to correct answers they gave previously to questions about the nature of the meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld.

They had backed Hirschfeld's account of how the meeting had transpired.

It later emerged Curran had diaried the meeting with 'CH' at the Astoria cafe.

One text exchange, released today but with identifying information redacted, said: "If it comes up again the answer will be that it was arranged at short notice. It's clear from talking to her that it was not spur of the moment."

The response came back: "Can you send a copy of the staff announcement please."

At the centre of the issue are later exchanges between Griffin and Curran. He made a claim that Curran had left a message on his mobile phone telling him to write a letter to the select committee rather than appearing in person to correct the record.

But Griffin refused a request to provide that voicemail to the committee.

Today's release of information includes a text from Curran following her voice mail which says: "Hi Richard I have left a voicemail message re a written correction to the select committee that is needed today. Can you please advise you have received the message and it can be done. Thanks."

Griffin then left a message for Curran which said: "Good afternoon Minister I just picked up your call this morning, and your text. The fact is we agreed last ... I agreed last Monday with the Chairman that we would appear ... we have since requested such an action and on Tuesday amended the appearance date from 1 o'clock today to 9am next Thursday. I can only suggest you have a word with the Chair if necessary but, we've already got a signed deal with them to have it on 9 o'clock on Thursday and we're taking legal advice ... we took legal advice yesterday with Hugh Rennie QC so that's where the situation is from my point of view. The same applies to the message I got from Paul James today. Call me back if you've got a problem. Cheers."

Curran declined to comment this evening.

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