Money, mayhem and murder: Timeline of a scandal
March 13: Media revealed major ACC privacy breach as thousands of client details were accidentally sent to an unnamed claimant – later identified as Bronwyn Pullar. Details include nearly 250 clients from ACC’s sensitive claims unit.
March 17: Media reported ACC released a report to new Minister Judith Collins, outlining how an un-named whistleblower tried to negotiate a guaranteed two-year benefit in exchange for return of the spreadsheet providing the privacy breach details. Police were to investigate alleged threats.
March 18: Ms Pullar was named in a letter from her confidante and former National Party president, Michelle Boag to Ms Collins, which was leaked to the media by a source yet to be identified. Ms Pullar later denied using ACC’s mistake as leverage to secure a two-year guaranteed benefit.
March 21: Former ACC Minister Nick Smith resigned all cabinet portfolios after it was revealed he wrote an endorsement letter for Ms Pullar on ministerial letterhead in July 2011 supporting her ACC claim while he was ACC minister.
March 21: ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart confirmed Dr Smith’s letter was received by ACC officials but said it “absolutely did not “affect how ACC handled her case.
March 22: Ms Pullar apologised publically to Dr Smith: “Nick I am very sorry for what happened yesterday. This was an unintended consequence of my action to campaign on privacy rights and hold ACC to account. It is truly regrettable. I know you were only trying to help a mate and you’ve fallen victim to my condition of repetitive behaviour and pestering, which is a direct consequence of my head injury.”
March 23: Privacy commissioner Marie Shroff confirmed an inquiry into how 6700 ACC claimants’ information was sent to Ms Pullar. This could involve forensic investigations of computers over the leak of an email sent to Ms Collins about Ms Pullar.
An inquiry report by KPMG auditors former Australian Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton is due on August 23.
March 29: TV One’s Close Up said it was leaked Sovereign Insurance’s letter to Ms Boag over an attempt to get a $14 million payout for Ms Pullar for injuries from a 2002 cycling accident.
The letter refers to an influential list of National Party supporters in what was seen as an attempt to influence and push through Ms Pullar’s claim.
March 30: Ms Pullar makes her first public comment on the saga and its fall-out. In a press statement, she described the “List of 28” as “known people who were aware of my dispute with the insurer and who the insurer may encounter in the course of their business.
“This was in the context of us entering into negotiations to reach a confidential settlement,” Ms Pullar said in her statement.
She said an unnamed “adviser” asked her to prepare the list of 28 names.
“Provision of this list was necessary in case the insurer subsequently faced questions from these parties who had knowledge of the dispute.”
March 30: Sovereign Insurance refused to comment.
March 30: Ms Collins launched defamation action against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, accusing them of defaming her in comments about the leaking of Ms Boag’s March email, which led to Ms Pullar’s identity being revealed in the media. Ms Collins denied she, or her office, was responsible for the leak. A judge-alone defamation trial is due in February.
April 4: Auditor-general Lyn Provost announced an investigation of the ACC board’s handling of Ms Pullar’s claim.
June 5: Police completed a preliminary investigation into ACC’s complaint about Ms Pullar’s alleged attempt to secure a two-year guaranteed benefit in exchange for return of leaked emails.
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said there would be no further police investigation into the concerns raised by ACC.
“After careful consideration of the evidence now available and a separate legal review of the facts we have determined that no offence has been disclosed.”
ACC accepted the outcome of the police investigation but chairman John Judge and chief executive Ralph Stewart said ACC’s original report on the meeting was complete and accurate and staff considered that a threat had been made.
June 10: Bronwyn Pullar’s interview with 60 Minutes reporter Melanie Reid was broadcast. “I broke my neck or the first rib, chest injuries, back injuries, neck injuries, nose injury, eye injury… and I broke my elbow as well,” Ms Pullar told Ms Reid. “How could they send me a file with 7000 names in it and not be aware of it? That’s what I couldn’t get my head around. But really, this issue was bigger than me.”’
“The Eye of the Storm” interview also featured Ms Pullar’s extracts from a secret tape recording of her and Ms Boag’s December meeting with ACC officials. Ms Pullar told Ms Reid she believed there had been a campaign to discredit her as a distraction from the real issues she wanted highlighted.
June 12: An announcement said ACC board chairman John Judge would step down at the end of June.
June 13: ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart resigned after less than a year in the job and was replaced by former Commerce Commission chairwoman Paula Rebstock. By now, ACC’s boardroom cleanout has also claimed deputy chairman John McCliskie and director Rob Campbell.
June 13: Following Mr Stewart’s resignation, Labour MP Andrew Little called for Ms Collins to go.