Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Ex-ACC boss denies Collins' claims

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

Former ACC Chairman John Judge says ACC Minister Judith Collins' claims he hampered an investigation into a the leak of a sensitive email are untrue and an attempt to "blacken" his name.

Ms Collins last night told the Herald that the Privacy Commission's investigation into who leaked an email which identified Bronwyn Pullar as the woman at the centre of a massive ACC privacy breach had been stymied by Mr Judge, replacing or wiping his computers.

Mr Judge today said Ms Collins' comments were "pathetic".

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff in late March began an investigation into how the email from former National Party President Michelle Boag to Ms Collins was leaked to the Herald on Sunday.

The identification of Ms Pullar prompted a source to give information to the Herald about a letter former ACC Minister Nick Smith wrote in support of her claim. Dr Smith resigned his portfolios after the Herald confirmed the existence of that letter.

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. Ms Collins is currently taking defamation action against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little after they suggested she was the source of the leak.

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.

But Mr Judge said Ms Collins was aware that he replaced his home computer before the Privacy Commissioner's inquiry was announced.

"Everything was transferred from my old computer to the new one anyway. It's not like anything disappeared."

Furthermore, he was not able to receive emails on his ACC iPad anyway.

He said Ms Collins "knew the truth" and was "just trying to blacken people".

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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