We were promised a powerful inquiry to get to the bottom of the Covid-19 patient privacy breach. Instead we have to trust the word of leakers.
The investigation was a rare chance to scrutinise the behind-the-scenes conduct of political players who largely are immune from audit but it found little more than what we already knew.
The Government asked the State Services Commission to investigate what caused the privacy breach, who was responsible and how it could be prevented from happening again. At the time the Government believed the leak could have come from the public sector.
Then the day after Michael Heron QC was appointed to head the inquiry National MP Hamish Walker and his mentor and former party president Michelle Boag confessed.
It took the wind out of the sails of Heron's inquiry - the key players had revealed themselves and their motivations.
That Boag was a private citizen working for Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust - a private organisation - and Walker was an MP somewhat complicated matters. Heron's responsibility was to investigate public servants.
But he had the wide-ranging scope to establish the extent of the privacy breach and if there was a pattern of behaviour. And under the Inquiries Act, Heron had the immense powers to fact-check the leakers' words through forensic analysis of email addresses, questioning under oath and seizing documents or computers.
Instead Heron took the leakers at their word.
A detailed timeline of the unacceptable actions is important for the public record and without it we have to also trust their statements.
We have to believe that although Boag sent patient data to then National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse four times in June, she only sent it to Walker once.
We have to believe Walker didn't have the patient data when he sent out a press release mid-afternoon on July 2 that the returnees were mostly from "India, Pakistan and Korea".
We have to believe it was only after 4.30pm when the first news story broke that Walker had been called racist that he called Boag in a state of distress.
We have to believe Walker when he said Boag only sent the data to him to help him back up his claim despite Boag saying she never knew he'd send it on to media.
We have to believe Walker when he told Heron: "This was the only time Ms Boag gave me official information that she should not have done."
The timing of when Boag emailed the spreadsheet to Walker isn't in the report and is a vital detail to reassure the public these players can be taken at their word.
Heron relied on the threat of a hefty penalty under the Inquiries Act to punish anyone caught in a lie with a fine up to $10,000 so didn't see it was necessary to fact-check the stories of the leakers.
Walker and Boag's reputations are in tatters while Woodhouse's is tarnished but they're unlikely to face further consequences for their actions.
Inquiries headed by QCs are costly and with the source of the leak widely reported, dragging it out would have racked up the bill for the taxpayer.
But the all-powerful investigation missed a rare chance to delve deeper into the political murk that sits behind this saga.