Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Woman in ACC scandal made threat to minister

Michelle Boag. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Michelle Boag. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Former National Party insider Bronwyn Pullar, who last week went public over a major breach of client privacy at ACC, earlier made threats to "embarrass" the Government over moves to cut costs at the expense of injured claimants, it has emerged.

Ms Pullar, a former marketing executive and National Party official, was yesterday revealed as the woman who was last year mistakenly sent information about 6700 ACC claimants.

Former National Party president Michelle Boag acted as Ms Pullar's support person in a December meeting with ACC during which the corporation was first made aware of the potential privacy breach.

Ms Pullar suffered a head injury in a 2002 bicycle accident which she believes left her unable to work fulltime. However, the report that Ms Pullar was the woman in the privacy breach prompted blogger Cameron Slater to publish emails sent to him by her seeking his help in a long battle with the corporation over its assessments of her ability to work.

Those emails, sent in October 2010, include one Ms Pullar originally sent to then ACC Minister Nick Smith, in which she tells him that corruption "is alive and well within ACC".

"ACC is rotten to the core and I have numerous examples that could seriously embarrass you, over and above this.

"This is just the beginning of a process to bring into the public arena the concerns about ACC's new policies in their drive to reduce financial liability at the expense of injured claimants and their rights."

In a report on the privacy breach released on Friday, ACC alleges Ms Pullar - who was not named -attempted to use the data to gain a two-year guaranteed benefit.

"She made threats that if her demands were not met she would not return the information and she would inform the media of the alleged privacy issue," the report says.

Ms Pullar did not respond to the Herald's calls or messages yesterday.

Ms Boag last night dismissed any suggestion she was, by acting as Ms Pullar's support person during the December meeting, employing political influence to advance her case.

She said she had not been involved with the National Party for a decade, other than at the electorate level, and there was no reason why she should not help out her friend of 15 years during a difficult time.

Ms Boag earlier denied she or Ms Pullar had ever told ACC the return of the information was conditional on Ms Pullar receiving the support she was seeking.

Mention of the privacy breach at the end of the December meeting was "purely incidental" to the discussion about Ms Pullar's situation and there was no attempt to use it as leverage. While the Herald understands the police have yet to contact Ms Pullar, their investigations look set to gain impetus this week.

The Herald understands ACC will today supply them with its report and other material, including documents written by Ms Pullar.

- NZ Herald

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