Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Thorn 'was pushed' over GCSB leak probe - Banks

Former head of Parliamentary Service Geoff Thorn, has refused to answer MPs' questions about whether he was told to resign over his role in the GCSB leak inquiry.

His refusal to answer those questions this morning has fueled speculation he was effectively made a scapegoat over the inquiry which has been criticised for breaching the privacy of ministers and reporter Andrea Vance.

Mr Thorn this morning faced questions from Parliament's privileges committee, which is examining events around the release of Fairfax Media reporter Ms Vance's phone, email and swipe card records to the inquiry.

Mr Thorn acknowledged his "failing'' in not setting a process for engagement with the inquiry and for dealing with its information requests.

He later said that failing meant he was unable to provide accurate information when the Government was facing Parliamentary questions on the matter.

Mr Thorn said he had difficulty in establishing the facts of what had taken place during the interaction between the inquiry and Parliamentary Service.

"I let myself, and the Speaker down."

He also believed he had let down Parliamentary Service and ministers and that was why he had resigned.

However in response to questions from Act's John Banks who has suggested Mr Thorn was forced to resign, he said he did not believe he was a scapegoat.

Asked by Labour's Chris Hipkins whether anyone had indicated to him or told him he should resign, he said: "I prefer not to answer that question".

Mr Key said no one in his office put pressure on Mr Thorn to step down and ruled out any improper interference by Mr Eagleson or or any other staff during the inquiry.

"The chief of staff has my authority and I think he acted absolutely correctly. He was asking for information relating to ministers and staff, I believe he had the authority to do that.''

Mr Key said the inquiry showed that there were not "hard and fast'' protocols around the handling of information and these would be clarified after the inquiry.

Banks on Thorn: 'You'd have to say on balance he was pushed.'

After the committee meeting, Act Leader John Banks told reporters Mr Thorn had behaved honorably and his decision to resign was the right one "on the basis of the evidence".

However Mr Banks also said it was "absolutely" telling that Mr Thorn wouldn't answer questions about whether he was pushed out of his $300,000 a year job.

"In the absence of him giving a clear directive to the question you'd have to say on balance he was pushed."

However Mr Banks said he had no idea who may have done that.

NZ First Leader Winston Peters said Mr Thorn had been made a scapegoat, "and I thought so from the word go

Key rejects claim Thorn was pressured to step down

Mr Key said no one in his office put pressure on Mr Thorn to step down and ruled out any improper interference by Mr Eagleson or or any other staff during the inquiry.

"The chief of staff has my authority and I think he acted absolutely correctly. He was asking for information relating to ministers and staff, I believe he had the authority to do that."

Mr Key said the inquiry showed that there were not "hard and fast" protocols around the handling of information and these would be clarified after the inquiry.

- NZ Herald

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