The disability services provider at the centre of an alleged privacy breach maintains there was no "cover-up" when information was withheld from the parents of a teenager with severe disabilities.

The Marshall family are seeking $1.1 million in damages from IDEA Services, claiming the provider deliberately withheld information from them regarding their son, Eamon, who was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, cerebral palsy, severe epilepsy, visual impairment and intellectual disability at 6 months old.

He was placed in foster care in 2004 due to his complex needs, with his parents visiting him most nights to help care for him.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal has met in Napier to hear three claims the Marshalls have made against IDEA Services, who oversaw Eamon's placement.


The first relates to alleged breaches of the Privacy Act, the Marshalls claiming IDEA Services breached Eamon's rights by failing to release information about him, after they requested it in May 2016.

Glenn Marshall, who is representing his son, maintains information relating to Eamon's care was deliberately withheld from them, after he made a wide-ranging request for information relating to him, his wife and Eamon.

The lawyer for IDEA Services, Iris Reuvecamp. Photo / Warren Buckland
The lawyer for IDEA Services, Iris Reuvecamp. Photo / Warren Buckland

He said staff members withheld information which they were aware existed, and therefore it could not be claimed to be inadvertent.

In email correspondence to IDEA Services, along with other organisations, he went as far as to accuse the service of a "cover-up".

But during the second day of the hearing, IDEA Services lawyer Iris Reuvecamp denied the Marshalls' allegations of a cover-up, saying readily retrievable information was provided within the statutory timeframe.

She said when the Marshalls raised their concerns about missing information, which included a health report and email correspondence from Eamon's school, IDEA Services apologised and initiated an investigation to look for the missing information.

She said the Marshalls had complained to the Privacy Commissioner on June 1, 2016, before raising their concerns around the missing information with IDEA Services a few days later on June 6.

Premium - Parents of disabled teen Eamon Marshall says he deserves to be heard as court case kicks off
Premium - Eamon Marshall and the stoush that could unravel the Health and Disability Commissioner
Premium - Human rights case against Health and Disability Commissioner 'exceptional'
Inquest into fatal Carterton motorcycle crashes begins


After the concerns were raised and the complaint made to the Privacy Commissioner, Reuvecamp said, IDEA Services continued to engage with the Marshalls.

It offered multiple apologies, and she went so far to say the service began to sound like a "broken record".

The tribunal hearing, being chaired by Rodger Haines, began on Monday and is expected to last until December 11.

Human Rights Review Tribunal chairperson Rodger Haines. Photo / Warren Buckland
Human Rights Review Tribunal chairperson Rodger Haines. Photo / Warren Buckland

The Marshalls' second claim also relates to alleged breaches to the Privacy Act, the third to an alleged breach of the Health and Disability Services Commissioner Act 1994.

In a separate case, the Marshalls are suing the Health and Disability Commission, for $300,000, for its part in the process.

It's the first time the watchdog, in charge of protecting patient rights, has had a human rights case taken against it in its 25-year history.