Bennett outed, Bennett outed and a Wright mess. However, how did RNZ know?

I made it up, so what...

It’s all on now….

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has been criticised for a leak of information from her office about a police investigation into Te Puea marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis.

The marae has taken it upon itself to house some of Auckland’s homeless.

The information was given to a journalist by one of Ms Bennett’s staff members.

So who are the people involved?

lucy_bennett_1200

Ex-NZ Herald parent company journo, Lucy Bennett (no relation)

Paula Bennett refuses to say, but it is likely that Lucy Bennett was at the cafe meeting where Hurimoana Dennis told her he was under police investigation.

Lucy then passed that information onto TVNZ reporter Rebecca Wright during a phone call.

Lucy says she acted on her own in leaking the information, claiming she thought it was already in the public domain. She offered her resignation, but it was not accepted.   …/…

The TVNZ journalist Paula Bennett’s press secretary leaked to was Rebecca Wright – a journalist with whom the Social Housing Minister has crossed swords in the past, including taking an unsuccessful complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.The minister’s press secretary told Ms Wright about a police investigation into the handling of a case by Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis, after Mr Dennis informed the minister about the matter in a private meeting last week.

The police investigation is not a criminal investigation into Mr Dennis personally, who could not be immediately reached for comment today.

Opposition MPs have claimed that the press secretary, Lucy Bennett, must have passed on the information with the minister’s permission. Paula Bennett has denied this, saying the first she knew about the leak was when a Radio NZ reporter asked her about it on Tuesday.

She has described the leak as inappropriate and has apologised to Mr Dennis, who is on leave from his role as police inspector and iwi liaison officer while the investigation is underway.

RNZ was the first to ask the minister about the leak. It is not known how RNZ found out about it.

TVNZ and Radio New Zealand? Would be hard to avoid the conclusion that the Panama Papers Joint Venture is still at work.

Rebecca Wright

Rebecca Wright

So why is all this happening?

Paula Bennett had run-ins with Ms Wright in 2010 and 2011 when the reporter worked for 3 News in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Broadcasting Standards Authority archives show that Wright is the only journalist the minister has lodged a formal BSA complaint against.

In 2010, Paula Bennett took Ms Wright to the BSA over a story about claims the minister had offered money to solo mother Natasha Fuller to drop a privacy complaint.

Ms Fuller later admitted she had made up the claims, which were contained in online messages to a friend obtained by TV3. The BSA case was struck out by the High Court on technical grounds before the BSA made a decision on its merits.

In her complaint to 3 News, Paula Bennett said the allegations were “malicious, completely without merit and … [potentially] defamatory,” and Ms Wright had treated her unfairly, including refusing to show her the messages containing the claims.

In 2009, Paula Bennett had released details of Ms Fuller’s income from benefits to the Herald after Ms Fuller spoke out against cuts to the Training Incentive Allowance. That case is being cited by the Opposition as evidence Ms Bennett has a track record in releasing personal information for political purposes.

In 2011, Ms Wright investigated the Ministry of Social Development’s Community Max scheme, which embarrassed Paula Bennett and the department and prompted a complaint from MSD to the BSA, which was not upheld by the BSA.

There are some major breaches of ‘code’ here, with journalists exposing sources, and then exposing each other. So far nobody’s career has ended because of it, but it has all the makings of a Red Wedding.

The Herald even throws Paula Bennett under the bus as being one of their sources on a previous leak.

The really curious thing is that Labour and the Greens are giving Paula Bennett a free pass in Question Time today.

 

– various sources, including NZ Herald, TVNZ, Newshub and others


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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