Investigation into leak of Budget material shut down due to undisclosed conflict of interest

The investigation into how secretive Budget material was accessed earlier this year has been compromised and shut down, the State Services Commissioner says.

Source: 1 NEWS

SSC Peter Hughes said the "integrity of the current investigation, led by Mr Murray Jack, had been compromised" after a key member of the investigation failed to admit a conflict of interest. 

Mr Hughes has removed Mr Jack as the lead, and a new investigation will be launched. 

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But the investigation into the data breach found the then Treasury secretary acted in good faith. Source: 1 NEWS

"Starting the investigation again is the right thing to do," Mr Hughes said. "Near enough is not good enough when it comes to integrity."

Questions were raised into former Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf's "actions and statements" around Budget material that was released early by the National Party in May. 

His handling of the Budget saga was "a clumsy response to a serious issue", the State Services Commission (SSC) investigation found in June, but he acted in good faith in his advice to the Finance Minister and referring the matter to the police. 

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Jacinda Ardern denied Mr Bridges’ accusation, saying the National leader himself could have “enlightened” the public. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Makhlouf considered "that he acted at all times in good faith, reasonably and in a politically neutral manner”. 

The expected total cost, including of the new inquiry, was thought to be $250,000. The new investigation should be finished by the end of February 2020. 

The new inquiry will be led by Jenn Bestwick.

Interview transcripts and other material gathered during the course of the current investigation will be reused to the extent possible.