Former Te Whatu Ora worker Barry Young appears in court accused of illegally accessing vaccine database

A 56-year-old man has been denied bail for now after appeared in court on Monday morning, accused of leaking large amounts of Te Whatu Ora vaccination data online.   

Barry Young was arrested on Sunday and appeared before Wellington District Court judge Andrew Nicholls on Monday.  

He faces one charge of dishonestly accessing Te Whatu Ora databases with the maximum penalty being up to seven years of imprisonment.   

He has not entered a plea.  

A public gallery full of supporters stood and clapped when Young entered the courtroom. Judge Nicholls told them off, saying "any more disruption and I'll ask you to leave".

Young has been denied bail on Monday and will be released on bail at 1pm on Tuesday.

Barry Young appeared in Wellington District Court on Monday Morning.
Barry Young appeared in Wellington District Court on Monday Morning. Photo credit: Newshub

It comes after Te Whatu Ora chief executive Margie Apa said in a statement the individual downloaded a large amount of vaccine-related information and published it on an overseas website.   

She said Young, a former staff member at Te Whatu Ora, had no clinical background or experience with vaccine knowledge and appeared to be trying to spread misinformation.  

"Analysis of the released data is ongoing but work so far has not found any National Health Index Numbers or personally identifiable information," Apa said.  

In the video, the man claimed New Zealand has had a high number of excess deaths since the vaccine rollout. However data experts say the claim is false, as the accused failed to age standardise the data.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon confirmed on AM on Monday morning no personal information had been spread.    

"As I understand it, it was anonymised data, so it wasn't specific to any particular individuals as such. Health New Zealand, frankly, did a very good job over the weekend working in conjunction with Minister Shane Reti to make sure that they could actually ascertain what had been taken," Luxon said.    

"They put an injunction in place and had data taken down from other sites, which was fantastic. Worked with New Zealand Police, someone was arrested late last night."   

Apa said Te Whatu Ora found out about the breach on Thursday and is doing everything it could to respond and safeguard people's information. 

"We are in the response stage right now and that requires very detailed analysis of the data that was released. A thorough investigation is also underway to identify any learnings from this incident," Apa said in the statement on Sunday afternoon.  

"What this individual is trying to claim about vaccines is completely wrong and ill-informed and their comments demonstrate this. The person has no clinical background or expert vaccine knowledge and appears to be trying to spread misinformation. 

"Vaccination is safe and effective, and everyone should keep up to date with their shots to protect themselves, whanau, and their communities. We assure people there is no evidence whatsoever that vaccination is responsible for excess mortality in New Zealand." 

Apa confirmed the data had been taken down from the overseas website and an Employment Relations Authority injunction was preventing it from being published elsewhere.  

"In addition, a police complaint has been laid, an employment investigation is underway, and the person is no longer at work. 

"The individual has worked in the health system for a number of years. He was authorised to access data as part of his work and was locked out of our systems as soon as we became aware of the unauthorised use," Apa said. 

'Very concerning' - Chris Hipkins

Labour leader Chris Hipkins was asked about the data breach on Monday morning and told media it was "concerning".  

"All government agencies who hold people's personal information do so with a degree of trust from the public and they need to very scrupulously make sure they're protecting that data, so this is very concerning. I'm sure they will need to look at how one person was able to do this in the first place," Hipkins said.  

"But I am pretty concerned about the momentum building behind some of these conspiracy theories."

Hipkins hit out at the new Government saying momentum is growing for conspiracy theorists because of some of their policies.  

"The new government certainly seem to be giving a bit of a nod to the conspiracy theorist. So things like their reservations about World Health Organization actually putting in place steps to stop future pandemics I think that will embolden the conspiracy theorist," he said.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins.
Labour leader Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub

Former Health Minister Ayesha Verrall told media on Monday morning the leaking of information is "very concerning".  

"New Zealanders give their health information to Te Whatu Ora in order to make sure they're cared for appropriately," she said,

"When it is used for another purpose, and that purpose is vexatious then that is of course of concern."  

Verrall said when she has the opportunity to ask questions of new Health Minister Shane Reti about whether the breach has been handled properly she will.