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Collins had positive view of Feeley — state services commissioner

State services commissioner Iain Rennie has weighed into the Judith Collins resignation controversy overnight. Mr Rennie has defended the embattled former Justice Minister overall but also flagged a possible concern over new allegations made yesterday.

Yesterday, Ms Collins resigned as the Prime Minister released a "smoking gun" email between Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater, "Carrick" (presumably PR operative Carrick Graham), "Mark" and a third person whose name is blanked out. In the email, Mr Slater says he has spoken to Ms Collins at length about Serious Fraud Office Adam Feeley, and that the Justice Minister is "gunning" for the SFO boss. Mr Graham's clients include at least one person who was under investigation by the SFO at the time.

Mr Rennie's statement had bad news for Ms Collins with its line that, "I am extremely concerned by an allegation that a minister has associated with third parties to discuss influencing my assessment of a public service chief executive.  If true, this would be wholly unacceptable."

But the commissioner backed the justice minister overall, saying  "I told the Prime Minister’s Office that Judith Collins had a positive view of Mr Feeley’s  performance through her time as Minister responsible for the Serious Fraud Office.

"The commission has reviewed its documentation and sought the recollections of staff responsible for the SFO portfolio at the time in coming to this view. This includes the period following the date of the email in October 2011 released by the Prime Minister."

Slater lays privacy complaint against PM
Cameron Slater has told media he is laying a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner against Prime Minister John Key for releasing the email which led to Ms Collins' resignation.

Yesterday, Mr Key refused to say who forwarded the email to his office.

Mr Slater says the PM released his private communication, "That he a) had no right to have and b) didn't seek permission to release it from me. Those are my communications and, like Nicky Hager, he has breached my privacy."

He added, "I'm not what you would call angry. I'm disappointed that the Prime Minister used my private communications to justify the dismissal of Judith Collins."

If the the rules apply to Nicky Hager, they should also apply to the Prime Minister, the Whale Oil blogger said.

It has been a busy week for Privacy Commissioner John Edwards.

On Wednesday, Mr Edwards defended his decision not to yield to the Greens' demand he investigate Ms Collins over personal details of alleged whistleblowing civil servant Simon Pleasants being forwarded to Whale Oil.

And although it was drowned out by other events yesterday, the commissioner confirmed to NBR that he would investigate a complaint by ACC complainant Bronwyn Pullar against Ms Collins.

This morning, Mr Edwards said he was not immediately aware of a complaint from Mr Slater but expected an update when he returned to the office.

RAW DATA: Statement from State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie

"The State Services Commission was contacted by the Prime Minister's Office over the last 24 hours on this issue."

“Any activity that undermines, or has the potential to undermine, the trust and confidence in the public service to impartially serve the interests of the government and New Zealanders is a matter of concern to me.”

"It is important that Chief Executives and Ministers mutually support each other to carry out their respective roles, in order to work together to serve the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders. Ministers are entitled to hold public servants to high standards of trust and performance and, in turn, should respect the role the public service plays.

"I am therefore extremely concerned by an allegation that a Minister has associated with third parties to discuss influencing my assessment of a Public Service Chief Executive.  If true, this would be wholly unacceptable.

"I told the Prime Minister’s Office that Judith Collins had a positive view of Mr Feeley’s  performance through her time as Minister responsible for the Serious Fraud Office."

"The Commission has reviewed its documentation and sought the recollections of staff responsible for the SFO portfolio at the time in coming to this view.  This includes the period following the date of the email in October 2011 released today by the Prime Minister.  Earlier in 2011, Judith Collins had raised with me the appropriateness of Mr Feeley’s consumption of a bottle of champagne following a media inquiry.

“It was appropriate that she spoke to me about this matter and my view on the matter was released publicly at the time."

"Any campaign to undermine my confidence in Adam Feeley’s performance was entirely ineffective and unsuccessful.  He was a strongly performing Chief Executive through his tenure for his work in transforming the SFO and vigorously pursuing criminal conduct in respect of finance company collapses.”

I would be very happy to consider Mr Feeley’s return to the Public Service in the future.”

Comments and questions

This country is like a leaking sieve

Why is the State Services Commissioner leaking information about how Judith Collins viewed Adam Feelys performance - would he have leaked this information if she had a different view - probably not
This is highly confidential information and would be unacceptable in any other country or within any corporate business

The Prime Minister should be suspended/admonished by the Governor General for breaking the law and leaking the email yesterday that resulted into Judith Collins. that is totally illegal and no better than what Collins did in the first place to Slater.

This country is a basket case run by a monkey

The top of the hive can be laid in the same basket in my eyes at the moment, all ducking for cover and manipulators?

An independent investigation body set up to monitor Government and business and highlight real or potential corruption would be a good start...

Adam Feeley QLDC and the Minister of Tourism (aka Key) and the puppet master Bill surely have a close relationship with Feeley considering they plan to throw away tax payer money on funding
conference centre" in Queenstown. (and a private investor Alastair Porter, would build and fund a centre without the need for tax payer funds) all fun and "games".

Too many business (personal and other$$) appear to dictate certain outcomes.

Accidential "slips" , leaked charges never investigated, Crown Law media protocol smashed during investigations

Collins was doing her job in relation to concerns with Feeley, complaint and concerns came from Lawyers and Criminal Bar Association, the SSC were soft! in my opinion...

Would love to a fly on the wall with the "off the record" communication between certain parties since the "dirty" side of our politicians have been exposed..

Yes outrageous behavior. Really ? Hager should have just called his book Politics because this is the way it is. Cunliffe doesn't provide numbers for Goff before he debates Key. Cunliffe undermines Shearer till his leadership is untenable. The Unions nobble the Labour Caucus to get their man in. Goff lied about being briefed by the SIS. Why ? Don't get me wrong any connection between Collins and "I am not a crook" Hotchin is unlawful and should be prosecuted but Labour and the Greens should get off their high horse and step back into the muck they regularly rake and spare us the faux indignation. I've been a victim of a Green led smear via a reporter at the Herald. The whole story was made up. Didn't seem to worry the journalist or the media that followed up on the story. This is business as usual perhaps why National polling at 48% and Labour at 28% in the latest poll. .

Consciously or not, Slater's doing the PM a favour by laying a privacy complaint against him. It puts a bit of distance between Key and Whaleoil.

Privacy complaint can't go anywhere anyway, the e-mail was provided to Key by one of the participants of the conversation.

Remember the good old days, when it was either National or Labor?

Heck, back then I could even be bothered to get out and vote....

Hear hear totally agree

As long as either National or Labour aren't run by monkeys like they re now

And if you don't bother voting now you might end up with a 5 headed monster trying to run the show.

Better that than a PM with the ethics of a mob boss oops sorry Investment Banker.

Based on what we know now, the SSC was too trusting of Collins and didn't look through her 'super-sweet' facade to see that she was playing a different ball game.

So it's all actually a right wing conspiracy now.

We all value privacy but it is not as important as the exposure of wrongdoing.

This is where lady justice comes in, with scales and sword and blindfold.

Is the exposure worse than the leak?

It's ok for Collins to investigate a state CEO, she is the minister after all who spotted misconduct suspicions.
But it is wrong to engage or disclose this to third party's such as media. Or whale oil henchman. They should be investigated in her office.

In reply to the blogger called the Doctor, it is entirely inappropriate to refer to the leaders of the main parties as 'monkeys'. Surely this ought to be a sensible discussion where you play the ball and not the person. If you can't contribute intelligent opinions, please don't bother. I would add that these leaders, especially our PM who is a successful businessman, will always soar well above the heights of your distasteful comments.

Erm surley unethical behaviour destroys any PMs claim to respect? Your grovelling to power is far more distasteful and dangerous to a democracy than calling politicians who lie "monkeys".

There is no evidence the PM has been unethical.

Merely a torrent of abuse and slurs from those to whom ethics is an entirely unknown unknown.