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Govt messenger sacked for Kiwi LLU plan leak

An 'abuse of trust'

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A messenger working in the Prime Minister's office in New Zealand has been sacked for leaking details of Government plans to shake-up the country's broadband industry.

Following an investigation, the State Services Commissioner found that messenger Michael Ryan had passed a cabinet document to his friend, and Telecom employee, Peter Garty.

Although Garty was told that the document detailing a massive overhaul of New Zealand's telecoms industry was for "his eyes only", the Telecom employee made a copy before returning the papers to his friend.

Once Garty realised the significance of what he'd been handed, he took the document to his bosses within Telecom to check its authenticity.

Once it became clear that details of the plans had been leaked, the government was forced to publish details of its proposals early - leading to a probe to find the source of the leak.

Publishing his report, State Services Commissioner Mark Prebble said Ryan had "acted alone".

"He took a paper, which it was his job to handle, and abused the trust given to him by passing it to someone who ought not to have been given it. I consider Mr Ryan's actions to be disgraceful.

"The Telecom employee, having received the paper, was compromised and felt obliged to take the paper to Telecom's legal advisors. Telecom, and the employee, were passive recipients of the paper. They neither encouraged Mr Ryan to provide it, nor was he offered or given any reward for providing it. Mr Ryan had provided no previous information on any earlier occasion to Telecom."

Giving evidence to the enquiry, Ryan explained: "It was because Peter and I were such close friends that I gave the document to him. I would not have done that if we were not close friends. I had given it to Peter for his interest, not to benefit him, me, or Telecom.

"I was completely shocked when I read about these matters in the newspaper, I never expected them to surface. I regret very much what I did and realise now how foolish I have been, regardless of the publicity.

"I would like to make it clear that I received no benefit from what I did, financial or in any other sense. My motive was not to damage the government. I have no desire to cause the government or my department any harm whatsoever. It was also not my desire to give Telecom any advantage," he said.

Ryan has now been dismissed and the case is to be handed to police to see whether any further action needs to be taken. ®

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