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Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Ex-chair's moves slow ACC probe, says Collins

ACC minister Judith Collins. Photo / Glenn Taylor
ACC minister Judith Collins. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Investigations into the source of a crucial leak of information about the Bronwyn Pullar ACC scandal have been hampered by the corporation's former chairman, John Judge, replacing or wiping his computers, according to ACC Minister Judith Collins.

But Ms Collins says she has no evidence that Mr Judge leaked the email, and Mr Judge yesterday stood by his earlier denials that he was the source of the leak.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff in late March began an investigation into how the email identifying Ms Pullar as the Accident Compensation Corporation claimant at the centre of a privacy scandal at the ACC was leaked to the Herald on Sunday.

The email Ms Collins received from former National Party president Michelle Boag set off a chain of events that led to her Cabinet colleague Nick Smith resigning his ministerial portfolios.

Ms Boag, as well as all recipients of the email - including Ms Collins, ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart and Mr Judge - have denied leaking the email.

But Ms Collins told the Herald last night that the email from Ms Boag was forwarded to Mr Judge's personal and only email account.

She had been advised by ACC that Mr Judge had his home computer replaced some time in April, and his old one "is no longer able to be accessed".

"In addition, I've now been advised that Mr Judge was given an iPad from ACC ... and that iPad was wiped clean by Mr Judge's computer expert before it was returned to ACC in June."

Ms Collins told the Herald: "I am aware now that that is an issue around being able to access the forensic data which would normally be on the computer."

Ms Collins said she could make no further comment because the matter was still subject to the Privacy Commissioner's inquiry.

Mr Judge was unavailable to respond to Ms Collins comments last night but earlier yesterday said he did "absolutely not" leak the email.

The email was among documents submitted by ACC to police to support a complaint it made against Ms Pullar.

ACC alleged that at a December meeting she and Ms Boag attempted to strike a deal to exchange the private information of thousands of other ACC claimants mistakenly emailed to Ms Pullar in return for a guaranteed benefit for her.

But in early June police said they would not lay charges against Ms Pullar. A few days later Ms Collins effectively forced Mr Judge and two other board members out of their jobs.

Mr Stewart announced his resignation shortly after although he is expected to remain in his job until the end of the year.

- NZ Herald

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