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Current as of 24/01/17 07:39PM NZST

Messenger leaked Telecom document

State Services Commissioner Mark Prebble has named the man responsible for the leak of Cabinet papers to Telecom.

He was Michael Ryan, a messenger employed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, who took the paper and gave it to an employee of Telecom.

Mr Ryan leaked the paper to a personal friend out of loyalty and with no intention of gain, Dr Prebble said.

Mr Ryan took the paper when he was meant to have destroyed it and gave it to Telecom's Group Financial Controller Peter Garty, Dr Prebble said.

Mr Ryan gave Mr Garty the report the night before ministers were due to discuss it and had asked him to not copy the report before returning to him.

Instead Mr Garty made a copy.

Dr Prebble said no other person played any role in assisting Mr Ryan to take the document from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to Telecom.

"The employee and ultimately Telecom were passive recipients of the document, having taken no action to seek it or to encourage Mr Ryan to provide it," Dr Prebble said in his report.

The pair were old friends and Mr Garty had no role in government relations and was not a participant in government telecommunication policy discussions.

"He has never encouraged Mr Ryan to provide secrets and no payment of any kind has ever been offered or paid to Mr Ryan by his friend or any other Telecom employee to encourage the provision of information. No previous confidential information that Mr Ryan had access to at his workplace had been provided to the Telecom employee."

Dr Prebble said Telecom had been compromised on receiving the document but had acted properly afterwards.

"I consider that neither the Telecom employee nor Telecom has any fault in the acquisition of the document," Dr Prebble said.

Mr Ryan was a government employee from 1970 until the late 1990's.

He was then self employed for a number of years but returned to government service in October 2005, when he became a messenger in the PM's department.

His background had been checked and the department had proper processes in place to deal with sensitive papers.

"With the benefit of hindsight, I recommend that DPMC review its system for disposal of sensitive Cabinet papers, but overall the system currently in place and its operation appears sound," Dr Prebble said.

Dr Prebble said by the time he was appointed to conduct the investigation he had a May 5 letter from Telecom naming the leak and the circumstances.

Mr Ryan had written to him on May 10 and then had testified under oath.

Mr Ryan and his wife have been long-term friends of Mr Garty and his wife.

Mr Ryan told Dr Prebble said he had seen that telecommunication review was on the agenda and had mentioned this to Mr Garty at his home.

On May 2, Mr Ryan was meant to have destroyed an official's copy of the Telecommunications Stocktake document, but instead took it.

That night he gave it to Mr Garty and asked him to return it the next day without copying it.

Dr Prebble said it had been done through a "misguided sense of friendship".

"I had given it to Peter for his interest, not to benefit him, me, or Telecom," Mr Ryan told Dr Prebble.

"I was completely shocked when I read about these matters in the newspaper, I never expected them to surface. I regret very much what I did and realise now how foolish I have been, regardless of the publicity."

Mr Garty had told Dr Prebble he had never asked Mr Ryan to provide him with any information, nor had he offered Mr Ryan any gift, payment or other inducement.

"Mr Garty did advise me that at a subsequent meeting between himself and Mr Ryan... did indicate that he thought that Mr Garty might have been in a position to 'take care' of his Telecom shares with the benefit of the information provided. This is denied by Mr Ryan.

"For the purposes of this report, it is not necessary to make any determination on this point. It is clear from the evidence provided to me that Mr Ryan provided the document to Mr Garty through some misguided sense of friendship, believing that it would be of interest or use to him," Dr Prebble said.

Telecom said it welcomed the swift release of Dr Prebble's report.

The National Party said it still raised serious questions about the cavielier nature in which the Government treated sensitive documents.


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