COVID-19 privacy breach: Michelle Boag stands down from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye's campaign committee

Ex-National Party president Michelle Boag has stood down from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye's campaign committee.
Ex-National Party president Michelle Boag has stood down from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye's campaign committee. Photo credit: The AM Show

Ex-National Party president Michelle Boag, who admitted to passing COVID-19 patient data to MP Hamish Walker, has stood down from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye's campaign.

Kaye, deputy leader of the National Party, told Newshub the 65-year-old was not the chair of her campaign but was on the electorate committee and campaign committee. 

"Michelle held a position on the Auckland Central electorate committee and as well as the campaign committee, and she has stood down from both roles," Kaye said. 

Boag confessed in a statement on Tuesday that she passed on COVID-19 patient details to National MP Hamish Walker who then leaked the information to the media.

Baog said the information was made available to her as acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT), although she said it was sent to her private email address.

National leader Todd Muller described Boag's actions as "appalling".

Boag has resigned from her role at ARHT and apologised to her colleagues. 

"This was a massive error of judgement on my part and I apologise to my colleagues at ARHT whom I have let down badly. I very much regret my actions and did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets."

Boag said she was grateful to the media for choosing not to publish the 18 names that were contained within the information.

"I take full responsibility for my actions and have resigned as acting CEO of ARHT... My actions were mine alone and should not reflect at all on the professionalism, integrity and outstanding reputation of the Rescue Helicopter staff."

Boag's revelation came just after Walker, MP for Clutha-Southland, admitted to leaking to the media information containing sensitive COVID-19 patient details he said was given to him by a "source". 

Walker has apologised for how he handled the information, but he said he passed on the information to the media to "expose the Government's shortcomings".

"The information that I received was not password protected by the Government. It was not stored on a secure system where authorised people needed to log on. There was no redaction to protect patient details, and no confidentiality statement on the document."

Health Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters on Tuesday the leak had a "ring of dirty politics to it".

Hipkins on Monday appointed Michael Heron QC to lead an investigation into the leaked information. He said the probe will continue despite Walker and Boag coming forward.  

The National Party board is meeting on Wednesday to decide the fate of Walker after National leader Todd Muller wrote to the board asking to have the MP removed.