National Party leak: A timeline of the scandal that toppled Muller

The National Party is in turmoil just 67 days before the general election after leader Todd Muller's shock resignation.

The party has been consumed by scandal over the leaking of Covid patients' private details a fortnight ago.

Muller's integrity came into question last week when he was repeatedly questioned about whether the party's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse had received any confidential information from former party president Michelle Boag and he replied that Woodhouse hadn't when he knew that he had.

Dunedin National list MP Michael Woodhouse (left) and National leader Todd Muller during a visit...
Dunedin National list MP Michael Woodhouse (left) and former National leader Todd Muller during a visit to ADInstruments' Vogel St headquarters on Monday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
He later said that he thought he was being asked about whether it was the same information that was given to Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker and he had been "transparent".

A week of questions over Muller's handling of the leak scandal

July 2

• Evening: National MP Hamish Walker sends the Herald a list containing names, dates of birth and isolation facilities of then 18 active current Covid-19 cases, to use as evidence he was right in saying cases were coming from India, Pakistan and Korea but does not reveal the source.

July 4

• Weekend Herald reveals there has been a privacy breach in that it has been sent details of current Covid cases without revealing who or why it was sent. Two other media outlets reveal they have been sent the same information. None publishes the info.

• Health Minister says there will be an inquiry.

• National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse recognises the description of the information similar to info sent to him by party stalwart Michelle Boag in four emails between June 21 and 25.

• Woodhouse texts Boag to say he had not sent his info to the media. Boag says she knows because the info is different . The number of active cases Woodhouse was sent in June was lower than the 18 active cases Walker was sent but Boag does not tell him it was Walker.

• National leader Todd Muller and Woodhouse strongly criticise the Government for the privacy breach.

July 6

• Lunchtime: Walker contacts Muller privately to confess to having forwarded Covid-19 patient information to the media.

• 3pm: Govt announces independent inquiry to be led by ex-Solicitor General Michael Heron, QC.

July 7

• Muller spends day in Dunedin with Woodhouse.

• Walker issues statement about 5.30pm admitting he sent the patient details to media but says it was to expose the Government's shortcomings at keeping data.

• Boag issues statement moments later admitting she sent the patient details to Walker. Resigns as Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust CEO, in which capacity she got the data from the Ministry of Health.

• Muller issues statement saying it was an error of judgment by Walker, that he has lost his spokesmanships, that he must co-operate with the inquiry and that he, Muller, will not be commenting further until the inquiry is over. Resignation is not mentioned.

• Woodhouse tells Muller he, too, has received similar information from Boag in June but did not do anything with it.

• Woodhouse deletes the Boag emails.

July 8

• Muller says he is angry with Walker and has referred the matter to National's board of directors.

• Walker announces retirement from politics before board deselects him.

• Woodhouse contacts Heron to say he was sent similar information to Walker from Boag.

July 9

• Muller has standup after speech and rejects a suggestion multiple times Woodhouse might have received similar information from Boag.

July 10

• Woodhouse publicly says he received patient information from Boag on four occasions between June 21 and 25 but did not do anything with it or tell anyone about it.

• Boag resigns from the National Party.

• Muller denies having made misleading statement the day before regarding Michael Woodhouse. "From my perspective, we have been well-managed and transparent about it."

July 14

• Muller resigns as leader of the National Party.


Well, well, well. How likely is it that some scandal is revealed in the next few days as the real reason behind this resignation? All I can say is that the truth will out.
The big story is who is going to replace him as leader? It is a poisoned chalice that I doubt many will put their hand up for. Whoever gets it is most likely to be rolled following the election, I can't see Judith Collins or Nikki Kaye accepting that. No, they'll going for a night watchman, some keen but unlikely unknown from the back bench.






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