Tova O'Brien says 'anyone' could have leaked Simon Bridges' expenses

  • 15/08/2018

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard is trying to get to the bottom of who leaked National leader Simon Bridges' expenses to Newhsub, but political editor Tova O'Brien says he's going about it the wrong way. 

O'Brien caused a shakeup in Wellington after she broke her story on Monday night revealing Mr Bridges spent $113,000 on Crown limos and accommodation in the past three months, during his 'getting to know Simon' roadshow across New Zealand. 

After the story broke, Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard asked for a list of who had access to the information, in an attempt to unmask the leaker. Those who had access to the information include Mr Mallard himself, the parliamentary library and the whips of each party. 

In National's case, the whips sent it, according to Simon Bridges, to all of the MPs in the National Party, O'Brien told The AM Show on Wednesday, discussing the fall-out in Wellington after she broke her story. 

No one in the Labour-led Government had National's information, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and she sought assurances from ministerial services to make sure that no one within the Government had the information, O'Brien said. 

That leaves the National party and the parliamentary services, the parliamentary library and the Speaker as suspects. But Ms Ardern has said the Speaker is "impartial" and National MP Judith Collins says she's confident the leak didn't come from the National caucus. 

Who leaked it then? 

Mr Mallard said the format that the leaked document was in isn't the same as the format that he received, or the parliamentary library. He's trying to narrow the suspicion down to the National Party or a few individuals within the parliamentary service. 

But O'Brien said that's not the correct way to look at the situation. She said Mr Mallard is not taking into account that the document could have been altered. The format could have been changed either by the leaker or by Newshub after it was received.  

"It was the information that was important, not the format," she told The AM Show. "It could be anybody. We can't narrow the field any which way."

O'Brien was asked if she knows who leaked the information to her, to which she said "no comment", adding that she protects her sources. 

But she did says it's "extraordinary" that Simon Bridges is calling for a High Court judge to preside over a full-blown forensic investigation into the leak - information which was due to come out anyway. 

"Speaking of wasting taxpayer money, that doesn't point to the behaviour of a man who wants to be Prime Minister," she said, comparing him to the likes of Winston Peters who came after those who leaked information of his superannuation details.