Despite calling off a QC-led investigation into the leak of Simon Bridges’ travel expenses, the Speaker of the House secretly pushed ahead with an investigation to clear his own name.
When Simon Bridges’ expenses were leaked to the media, Trevor Mallard ordered an investigation to find the source – something the National Party had been calling for.
Mallard publicly called off the hunt, which was to be led by Solicitor General Michael Heron QC, due to concerns about the mental health of the person at the centre of the saga.
National pushed ahead with its own investigation, run by PWC and Simpson Grierson. The results of the investigation are expected to be released in the next week.
However, behind the scenes, Mallard ordered a separate investigation by KPMG to see whether himself, his office, or Parliamentary Service could have been the source of the leak.
Mallard said he was 99.9 percent sure the leak hadn’t come from his office or Parliamentary Service, but it was important to be 100 percent sure.
The report, completed on September 4 following a week-long investigation, concluded: “On the basis of this independent review there is no evidence that staff in the Office of the Speaker, Mr Speaker, or Parliamentary Service finance and corporate staff released the details of this quarterly expenses disclosure report to any unauthorised parties.”
“It’s absolutely vital to the integrity of the system that there is a 100 percent level of trust in me, my office and Parliamentary Service,” Mallard said.
Given the investigation’s conclusion, the net appeared to be closing on the National party as the most likely source of the leak, despite Bridges’ continued statements that he believed his party and staff were not to blame.