In the contest between Winston Peters and National over a breach of Peters' privacy, there will be only one winner and it won't be National.

After the Herald revealed today that the public service had discussed Peters' superannuation overpayment with their political masters in the Beehive, Peters took that as licence to write his own script about what happened next.

There is no actual evidence. But it is almost certain that either a public servant or a political operative leaked the bare bones of his story to some media in a bid to discredit him.

It has backfired badly, especially if it was a National black ops move.

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It is almost certain that either a public servant or a political operative leaked the bare bones of the Winston Peters superanuation story to some media in a bid to discredit him. Photo / Michael Cunningham
It is almost certain that either a public servant or a political operative leaked the bare bones of the Winston Peters superanuation story to some media in a bid to discredit him. Photo / Michael Cunningham

It has given Peters an elevated platform to attack National and dominate the political agenda for the next few weeks in the role he champions best, victim.

Peters himself immediately favoured Inland Revenue as the culprit-leaker. He has had a career-long vendetta against the department for what he saw as negligence in investigating the Winebox transactions.

It may be that he didn't put National in the frame because he never imagined such information would be shared with politicians.

That is a view that will be shared by all quarters including the Prime Minister.

He has said that it was information that should not have been passed to ministers.But that wont be enough to get National off the hook.

He could have been more forceful.

The group defending the actions are the public servants themselves.

You'd have to wonder how rusty their own antennae are. The MSD boss knew it was sensitive enough to consult the State Services Commissioner and the commissioner knew it was sensitive enough to consult the Solicitor General and still they passed on the information to ministers.

Peters is now saying that the ministers - Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett - knew about his overpayment before he did - although all the evidence suggests the opposite.

He will get away with being liberal with the facts because National's past form has come back to haunt them.

If National did not leak the information, they are hellishly unlucky.

Just as happened with the teapot tapes episode in 2011, National has lost control of the political agenda and it has been handed to Peters.