Parliamentary Service head Geoff Thorn resigns

By Kate Shuttleworth

Geoff Thorn has stepped down from his role as general manager of Parliamentary Service.
Geoff Thorn has stepped down from his role as general manager of Parliamentary Service.

The head of Parliamentary Service has resigned but could still be summoned to a privileges committee inquiry into how the phone records and swipe-card movements of a Fairfax journalist were released.

The office of Speaker David Carter said it was now up to the privileges committee whether it would force Parliamentary Service head Geoff Thorn to appear.

Mr Thorn resigned today following revelations the service handed Miss Vance's phone records over to an inquiry, in addition to her swipe-card movement details.

A Datacom contractor released the records to David Henry's inquiry into the leak of Rebecca Kitteridge's GCSB compliance report.

The service also provided incorrect answers to written questions to Mr Carter over whether the records were sought.

An original answer provided to Mr Carter said the records had been sought and not provided, and it was later corrected to the phone records were not sought, but inadvertently provided.

Mr Carter said he had accepted Mr Thorn's resignation after confidence in Parliamentary Service had been dented.

Labour leader David Shearer said he respected Mr Thorn for doing the honourable thing but said he should not be a scapegoat for the release of Miss Vance's information and the responsibility needed to go higher than him.

"I believe he was pressured into releasing the documents by (Prime Minister John Key's chief of staff) Wayne Eagleson."

Mr Shearer said he would be disappointed if Mr Thorn didn't turn up to the privileges committee.

"He's a key witness and that would mean part of the story will be left out if he's not able to be questioned."

Green Party leader Russel Norman agreed Mr Thorn had done the right thing by resigning.

He had taken the fall for some of the mistakes but a question remained about what responsibility Mr Key and Mr Eagleson would take.

Mr Key said he would not appear before the privileges committee investigation and would not apologise to Miss Vance. He said he had only been a "bit player" in the Henry inquiry he established.

Miss Vance said today she was as "mad as hell".

"Anyone who has had their confidential details hacked and shared around had the right to be angry," she said in a column

She called the release of her details a "cock-up" by Mr Key and Mr Carter.

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Head of Parliamentary Service Geoff Thorn:

* Geoff Thorn became general manager of the service in February, 2008.

* He was formerly head of the Commerce Commission.

* He joined the Commerce Commission as an investigator in 1994.

* Was manager of special investigations breach of the New Zealand Military Police.

* He was in the army for 20 years.

* At the time of his employment former Labour speaker of Parliament Margaret Wilson said: "We consider that Mr Thorn's successful record with the Commerce Commission and his strong leadership skills will help him lead Parliamentary Service through the next stages of its development."

* Has a master of Business administration and a master of management in economics.

- APNZ

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