The damning investigation into the irregular expenses of Dr Nigel Murray, who fought to keep the draft report secret, show a chief executive who ignored concerns about his overspending and blamed others for the "errors".

However, a lawyer for Murray previously said the report was only ever a draft and was subject to change.

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And the Serious Fraud Office, which has a copy of the Maria Dew, QC, report dated September 22, 2017, decided not to pursue criminal charges against the former Waikato District Health Board CEO in July this year.

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The 46-page draft report was released to the Herald under the Official Information Act, more than two years after the newspaper requested it.

It follows an earlier release of a heavily redacted version in February. The latest version has fewer redactions, and excerpts showed:

• As early as December 2014, Murray was made aware of his relocation overspend but made no attempt to pay it back. He spent $52,000 on relocation costs, more than twice the already extended allowance.

• Murray made numerous travel and accommodation bookings personally which circumvented DHB policy and failed to provide detailed accounts of what the travel was for.

• When interviewed by Dew shortly before his resignation in October 2017, Murray blamed others for the overspend "errors" and gave differing explanations for lengthy hotel stays in Auckland and car hire in Canada.

Maria Dew preferred former Waikato DHB chairman Bob Simcock's evidence over Dr Nigel Murray's. Photo / Christine Cornege
Maria Dew preferred former Waikato DHB chairman Bob Simcock's evidence over Dr Nigel Murray's. Photo / Christine Cornege

Dew said by January 2015 it should have been "readily apparent to Dr Murray that there was a significant overspend on his relocation allowance".

But when she interviewed him as part of the investigation commissioned by board chairman Bob Simcock in June 2017, Murray provided a number of explanations for delay in repayment.

They included confusing costs that kept changing, his belief he had agreement from Simcock for additional flights and accommodation, and that he was not aware of any urgency to repay the money until after Simcock presented staff concerns to him in June 2017.

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Dew said she preferred Simcock's evidence that there was no agreement and that two staff members had consistent accounts of attempting to get Murray to clarify personal expenditure versus DHB costs with Murray failing to do so.

She said he was under obligation to resolve the matter promptly and discrepancies in GST exclusive and inclusive amounts did not justify the delay.

In the days before he was due to fly to a conference in the United States on March 17, 2015, Murray decided not to attend despite being invited by a primary health organisation, and had his flights changed.

He spent 11 days travelling between Auckland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Vancouver.

There was no travel request form and one was not prepared until the DHB was filing late expenses to the State Services Commission in February 2017.

"Dr Murray has confirmed that his travel for this trip was 'chopping and changing' and that his time spent in each location was set partly before he left New Zealand and partly while he was away overseas," Dew stated.

Despite listing meetings with a virtual tech expert in Las Vegas, experts in Vancouver, and a visit to a small clinic in Washington his diary only showed a meeting at HealthTap, the virtual health software provider that eventually cost Waikato DHB $26 million but flopped.

He also declined to provide the names of experts met with, was not able to provide any notes, documents or emails that related to the work travel, and there was no independent evidence supporting his statement that the meetings were so commercially sensitive he could not disclose them.

In August 2016, Murray had a booking at the then Langham Hotel in Auckland for 22 days despite his diary showing meetings in Hamilton and Wellington for some of that time including staying overnight in the capital.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes. The Commission's inquiry into Dr Nigel Murray found he spent $218,000, half of which was unjustified or unauthorised. Photo / Mark Mitchell
State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes. The Commission's inquiry into Dr Nigel Murray found he spent $218,000, half of which was unjustified or unauthorised. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The lengthy stay was discovered by DHB accounts staff in April 2017 and the matter was raised with Murray, who said it was an error and should have been charged to his personal credit card.

"However, Dr Murray did not make any repayment until June 13, 2017, when he repaid 15 days of the 22-day stay, being $2795."

Murray told Dew it was the hotel's fault for not billing his card and that hotel staff had apologised.

When Dew checked with the hotel credit manager the woman said Murray advised that a "friend/colleague" would pay the full account from August 6-21.

Despite a number of attempts to clarify who was to pay and to obtain a credit card, the manager said the hotel subsequently charged the whole accommodation to Tandem Travel, the agent for the DHB.

The total cost was $3402, which Dew assessed as all personal. She noted Murray used his own card to pay for incidental expenses of $3400.

During another stay at the Langham for four nights in April 2017, Murray's diary showed he was at meetings in Rotorua, Wellington and Hamilton.

At first, Murray said he was on business in Auckland, then that he always intended to pay for the nights, and later that he needed to be in Auckland for night meetings about the Waikato Medical School proposal.

He could not supply diary or meeting notes for those meetings.

The draft report shows Murray used study leave to travel to the United States and Canada three times in late 2016, when he hired a car in a small town in New Brunswick for two months despite only being there for a few days.

His explanation when the car hire was discovered in May 2017 was that it was his contribution to the costs of the study leave because his international colleagues had paid for the accommodation and meals while they stayed in Moncton.

In July 2017, the month the DHB launched its investigation, Murray repaid 39 days of the car hire at $4259.

Murray later said he thought the international colleagues would pay for the car but declined to name any of the parties he met with on the grounds of confidentiality.

No emails, meeting notes or documents were produced to back up the study leave research.

Eventually he named a patient he said he visited in New Brunswick but did not produce any evidence verifying it, Dew's report states.

After the DHB launched its investigation he repaid the trips.

As late as May 15, 2017, Murray personally booked a $1617 international flight for a woman from San Francisco to Auckland using taxpayer money.

Murray eventually repaid more than $70,000 to the DHB.

The Herald has sought comment from Murray's lawyers.

An investigation by Maria Dew into Dr Nigel Murray show expenses associated with Canadian woman Shannyn Sainiuk. Photo / File
An investigation by Maria Dew into Dr Nigel Murray show expenses associated with Canadian woman Shannyn Sainiuk. Photo / File

Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Kevin Snee acknowledged the Herald's pursuit of the independent investigation report and said the DHB shared the view it was in the public interest to make information available.

"However, Dr Murray brought legal proceedings against Waikato DHB in the Employment Relations Authority.

"As a result of these initial proceedings, the DHB was permitted to release the draft report with redactions in January 2019.

"The Serious Fraud Office in July this year announced its decision not to prosecute Dr Murray, prompting a new request from the NZ Herald for the redactions to be removed from the draft report.

"Dr Murray then brought further proceedings against Waikato DHB in both the Employment Relations Authority and the High Court to prevent further information being released from the draft report."

Snee said there was added complexity due to the report remaining in draft form because of the agreement reached with the previous board, which allowed Murray to resign bringing a halt to Dew's investigation.

He said a settlement had now been reached in the High Court over the proceedings allowing the DHB to release more information.

At the same time Murray had agreed to withdraw the proceedings in the Employment Relations Authority.

A DHB spokesman confirmed the DHB did not pay Murray any money as part of the settlement.