Politics

Bridges leak inquiry called off after text

The inquiry into the leak of National MPs' expenses has been called off, with Speaker Trevor Mallard saying the "very disturbed" person who released the details to media would suffer if it was to go ahead.

Mallard's decision to cancel the investigation comes against the wishes of National leader Simon Bridges, who said he was confident the mental health of the leaker would not be compromised if it was to continue,

Police have identified the person who texted Bridges, Mallard and Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien pleading for the investigation to be called off, but have refused to share the person's identity.

RNZ, which revealed the existence of the text, said the person identified themselves as a National MP and said they opposed Bridges' leadership and his "wasting" taxpayers' money.

The leaker said they had a serious mental illness, and would be harmed if the investigation continued.

Bridges put the ball in Mallard's court on Friday morning, saying it was up to the Speaker whether to proceed.

In a statement, Mallard said he had called off the inquiry, set to be carried out by Michael Heron QC, having had it confirmed that the texter and the leaker were the same person.

"He or she has details of events that it is unlikely anyone outside of the National Party would be privy to," he said.

Mallard said the text was from "someone who is clearly very disturbed, and today's publicity will almost certainly make that worse".

"My priority is to get support to them whether they are an MP or a staff member."

Mallard said he had spoken to Bridges, who did not agree with the decision and wanted the inquiry to continue. Mallard had told him the Parliamentary Service would cooperate with him if he wanted to proceed with an investigation at his own end, with the general manager making any relevant emails available.

Bridges: 'Range of credible scenarios' on identity

Flanked by senior MPs at Parliament earlier in the day, Bridges confirmed he had received the text and said he had received advice from mental health experts on how to handle the message.

Due to his concerns for the person's wellbeing, he contacted police on Friday and asked them to look into the issue. Police confirmed to Bridges on Sunday they had identified the source of the message, but would not share the person's identity due to privacy issues.

Bridges said police had told him the person did have "wellbeing issues" and would get the help they needed, but that they were not at a high level of risk. Police did not say it was unsafe for the investigation to continue, and were working on the basis it would go ahead.

While the texter had provided certain facts to support their claim they were a member of the National caucus, Bridges said he could not be sure it was not another party's MP or an employee of the Parliamentary Service.

"There is a range of credible scenarios that really mean I cannot say whether they were or they weren't."

"The wellbeing of this person is my utmost concern, it's of the utmost importance, but I am satisfied on the basis of the expert advice and also my conversations with police that it can proceed."

It was up to Mallard to decide whether the inquiry would continue, but Bridges said he believed it could.

"The wellbeing of this person is my utmost concern, it's of the utmost importance, but I am satisfied on the basis of the expert advice and also my conversations with police that it can proceed."

He believed it was important "for the integrity of Parliament" that the investigation go ahead.

Asked whether he felt concerned about his leadership, given the leak of both the expenses and the text message, Bridges said he was comfortable with the strong messages of support he had received from his caucus.

No MPs had told him they were uncomfortable with how he had handled the text message and the wellness claims made by the alleged leaker.

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