PSA welcomes Ombudsman’s findings on MFAT inquiry

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Natural justice needs to come first in all government inquiries, regardless of how embarrassing their findings may be, the Public Sector Association says.

The PSA is pleased the Ombudsman’s review of the inquiry into leaks from MFAT highlighted failings which damaged the reputation of a senior diplomat – and agrees an apology is needed.

“We agree Derek Leask was treated unfairly by the Commissioner, and he has suffered significant consequences both personally and professionally,” PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

“He was forced to defend himself repeatedly against accusations which were false, and we are pleased this review vindicates him.”

The MFAT inquiry was undertaken by Paula Rebstock on behalf of the State Services Commissioner, after information was leaked to the Labour party.

The Ombudsman found the State Services Commission had acted unreasonably during the inquiry and had not observed principles of natural justice.

“We hope the Commission and the government will take on board the very clear lessons from this experience,” Mr Barclay says.

“Natural justice should be paramount in employment matters, regardless of how sensitive they may be and how potentially embarrassing their findings.

“The leaks were a matter of serious concern, and the Commissioner Iain Rennie had an important role to play to ensure integrity and trust in the public sector was maintained.

“Ms Rebstock’s inquiry did not do justice to Mr Leask, MFAT or the public service – and Mr Rennie should not have continued to back its findings.

“We support the Ombudsman’s call for Mr Rennie to issue a public apology to Mr Leask.”