Winston Peters' $1.8m privacy claim against Paula Bennett, Anne Tolley dismissed by High Court

Winston Peters' privacy claim has been dismissed as the Deputy Prime Minister could not identify who had leaked his pension details. 

The High Court on Monday agreed that Peters' privacy was deliberately breached before the 2017 general election in an attempt to shame him. 

However, his claim against National MP's Paula Bennett, Anne Tolley and others was dismissed as he could not prove they had leaked his accidental over-payments to the media.

Therefore Peters' claim for $1.8 million in damages and a declaration his privacy was breached were dismissed.

In May 2017 the Ministry of Social development found Peters had been wrongly receiving a single person's pension for seven years, despite being in a long term relationship with Jan Trotman.

When he was alerted Peters' paid back the $18000. MSD did not open a fraud case against the New Zealand First leader.

Then Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley and Minister of State Services Paula Bennett were alerted to the overpayments under the ministerial 'no surprises' policy, which requires public servants to alert their ministers of matters of significance within their portfolio when they may be controversial or become subject of public debate.

Peters says his superannuation is a private matter and should not have been raised with ministers.

"Jan and I value our privacy and do not discuss our private matters with others," Peters told the court at a prior appearance in November 2019. 

"The ministers had no right to know, and had they not been told we wouldn't be here today."

Details of the mishap were leaked to the media in August 2017 - just before the general election. 

Bennett and Tolley consistently denied being responsible.

In a statement sent to media, New Zealand First said the case had caused Peters "considerable stress".

"It is seriously welcome to see that Justice Venning confirmed that this was a deliberate and malicious breach of privacy done with the intent to damage my reputation and cause harm," Peters said.

"This was always going to be a difficult case because as the decision points out despite evidence of malicious behaviour we had to prove who did it.

"Our values, human rights and democracy have privacy as their foundation stone. On this matter the decision of the court was very encouraging."