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Blogger Keith Ng is drawing dots between the outing of his source, Ira Bailey, and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s office.
This afternoon, the blogger noted to NBR that after Mr Bailey called the Ministry of Social Development a second time last week, his LinkedIn profile was checked out by Holly Ford – a member of Ms Bennett’s staff.
LinkedIn's default settings mean that if you have a free account, others can see if you've viewed your profile. Mr Bailey saw Ms Ford on his "Who's Viewed Your Profile" list, then alerted Mr Ng.
Another member of Ms Bennett’s staff confirmed Ms Ford worked in the minister’s office, but said she was not immediately available for comment.
Ms Bennett told NBR, “I can confirm that one of my advisors Googled Ira Bailey and found his LinkedIn profile, after his name was mentioned in relation to the security issue. This is common practice; social media is a good tool for research."
The minister added, “To the best of my knowledge no one in my office spoke to media about Mr Bailey prior to Keith Ng releasing his name on his blog.”
In Parliament this afternoon, Ms Bennett noted Mr Bailey had not requested confidentiality when he contacted the MSD, and said he would reveal security issues in exchange for money.
The minister said she had never leaked anyone's name.
Asked in Parliament if she would conduct an investigation into the leaking of Mr Bailey's name, Ms Bennett replied "I have no interest in going on a witch hunt."
Mr Ng said he found the timing intriguing, but stopped short of accusing Ms Bennett’s office of leaking Ira Bailey’s name.
Last night, Mr Ng named Mr Bailey as the person who tipped him off about a security hole in WINZ kiosks that allowed him to easily access a broad range of files on the Ministry of Social Development’s network.
Mr Ng told NBR it was a preemptive move, made shortly after he received a call from Herald journalist Claire Trevett asking him to confirm Ira Baily was his source.
A spokesman for the MSD said the agency had not named Mr Bailey to anyone.
Mr Ng speculates whomever leaked Mr Bailey’s name was biding their time, and always planned to release it on the second day of the scandal’s news cycle, figuring his Urewera connection would distract from core issues.
Ms Trevett would not discuss her source.