Speaker drops Bridges' expenses inquiry

The Speaker Trevor Mallard has reportedly called off the inquiry into the leaking of  National leader Simon Bridges' expenses.

Newshub said today Mallard has ruled it is a National Party matter and therefore not something Parliament needs to be involved in.

Trevor Mallard
Trevor Mallard

Bridges told a media conference this morning he wanted the investigation continued. He said police had identified the person who sent him a "dark and concerning" text message claiming to be the leaker of his expenses.

Mallard told The New Zealand Herald this morning he will be making no comment on anything to do with the incident or the inquiry until the terms of reference are prepared: "end of story".

Mallard had appointed former solicitor-general Michael Heron, QC, to investigate the leak, which showed Bridges had spent $113,000 in a three-month period on travel expenses and Crown limo costs.

Bridges says he has been "very worried" about the health of an anonymous person who texted him about the leaking of his travel expenses - and says police know who sent the message.

He said he received the "dark and concerning" text message on Thursday and it was sent also to speaker Trevor Mallard and a media organisation.

"The text made clear to me that it was from the leaker ... [and that] the leaker was in the National caucus," Bridges told the media this morning.

"It also made quite clear that this person had a long and serious mental health issue.

"It was my very clear view there would be significant harm to them if the investigation proceeded. It was a dark and concerning text message.

"I was very worried about it. I spoke to senior colleagues and then replied, saying my utmost concern was for the welfare of the person.

"Later that day I received expert advice on how to proceed.

"On Friday I informed the police with my clear concern being for the mental health and well-being of the individual.

"On Sunday evening police contacted me. They knew and had worked out the identity of the person concerned. They made clear the person was getting the help they needed."

Bridges said police had not told him the person's identity and he understood why this was the case.

National leader Simon Bridges (centre) with Gerry Brownlee, Mark Mitchell and Amy Adams at...
National leader Simon Bridges (centre) with Gerry Brownlee, Mark Mitchell and Amy Adams at Parliament this morning. Image: NZ Herald
Police have confirmed they spoke to the person.

"Police assessed the information supplied as a mental health issue requiring an immediate response," police said in a statement issued today.

"The information provided by the National Party did not identify the individual, however their identity was established through subsequent police enquiries.

"Steps were taken as they are for any matter reported to police where there are immediate concerns for the welfare of an individual."

The National Party was advised that police would not disclose the individual's identity for privacy reasons. Police said they had dealt with the matter "entirely from a mental health perspective".

The texter had claimed to be inside the National Party and had leaked Bridges' expenses to punish him for being arrogant.

Bridges said he has not questioned members of his caucus about whether they sent the text. He said he believed he has the support of his colleagues and his main concern was for the wellbeing of the person who sent the text.

"I can't think who it is ... I feel strong support. Whether it's a National MP ... I hope we can find out."

He said it was important to get to the bottom of who leaked the material in order to protect the integrity of Parliament.

Bridges said the person who sent the text clearly knew his mobile phone number and Mallard's. He said he would not release the text to the public.

Bridges and Mallard both received an anonymous text message last week from a person claiming to be responsible for leaking the information to Newshub, RNZ reported earlier today.

A request by The New Zealand Herald for comment after Bridges' press conference was declined.

Where to get help

Mental Health Foundation
Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

 

 

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