A Waikato health board member has criticised disgraced former chief executive Dr Nigel Murray and embattled ex-chairman Bob Simcock for attempting to deflect blame over the expenses scandal.
Elected member Dave Macpherson, who has been vocal on the subject since an investigation was launched by Waikato District Health Board into Murray's spending in July last year, said the pair needed to take responsibility for their actions.
A State Services Commission investigation, released this morning, found more than half of Murray's expense claims for travel and accommodation, worth $120,000, were unjustified.
The State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes found Murray's actions were "serious and sustained breaches of the State Sector Code of Conduct" and he referred the case to the Serious Fraud Office which confirmed it is now investigating.
Macpherson said that the findings confirmed much of what was found in both the Audit NZ review into Murray's expenditure and the board's own investigation.
"Nigel Murray was a supposedly experienced public servant in the health sector. He knew what was allowable and what was expected.
"It is completely disingenuous for him to try and claim he is being treated 'unfairly'," Macpherson said.
"It is the taxpayers of New Zealand that have been treated unfairly by Nigel Murray, and indeed have been ripped off by him," Macpherson added.
He said he had no sympathy for either Murray or Simcock, the latter he said had earlier blamed DHB staff for the lack of process and oversight of Murray's expenses.
"As chair Simcock had the right and the responsibility to monitor the work and activities of the CEO; the fact that he didn't – and that Murray got away with so much over three years - only demonstrates that Simcock was asleep at the wheel.
"What is more, there is ample evidence that Simcock was personally warned not once, but twice, before Murray was appointed about the man, his behaviours and the trouble he caused at other health authorities."
He said Simcock should have more closely monitored Murray following the warnings.
"Even if he didn't think they were justified, the smart move would have been for him to closely monitor the new CEO's activities and expenditure, and to set up stringent board processes that would make it almost impossible for the expected behaviour norms to be broken.
"Simcock did none of this, and is rightly criticised by the State Services report."
Both Murray and Simcock, through statements released by their lawyers earlier today, hit back at the inquiry calling it unfair.
Simcock pushed the blame on to Murray and said the ex-chief led a double life and misrepresented expenses claims.
Simcock, who resigned over the debacle on November 28, lambasted the findings, saying the inquiry failed to "properly identify root causes and instead produced a report which is a scattergun of blame".
"Unfortunately I am being held up as a scapegoat for some of what Dr Murray did, when it is now clear he led a double life," said Simcock, a former National MP.
"There was so much dishonesty surrounding Dr Murray that even with professional advice and checking, he was still able to hide his behaviour."
In a letter from Murray's lawyer Peter Cullen to inquiry head John Ombler, Murray said he believed the investigation into him was "unfair" and "seriously flawed".
"As you will be aware, from the outset we have raised and continue to raise serious concerns about Mr Ombler's decision not to provide Dr Murray with copies of the information and documents that he has obtained in the course of his investigation and which are relevant to the terms of reference in so far as they relate to Dr Murray."
In the January 19 letter Cullen said there was no doubt about pressure from media and the Government for a "hasty investigation" and result.
"Dr Murray believes that the pressures we refer to are playing a dominant role in this investigation and that his rights are being trammelled.
"He has a deep sense of injustice which is reinforced by the legal advice he has been given."
Cullen said Murray needed fair treatment within the "criminal investigation" by the Serious Fraud Office without it being tainted by other inquiries first.