15 Jul 2015

Barfoot and Thompson fires staff member over housing data leak

7:25 pm on 15 July 2015

The real estate firm Barfoot and Thompson has confirmed it has fired a staff member over controversial housing data leaked to the Labour Party.

Barfoot and Thompson annoucned that a staff member has been fired over a leak to the Labour Party.

Barfoot and Thompson annoucned that a staff member has been fired over a leak to the Labour Party. Photo: RNZ/ Carla Penman

A press conference was held at short notice this afternoon, after Labour used anonymous sales data it had been given to claim that foreign speculators have ramped up Auckland house prices.

The company launched its own investigation to find out if it was the source of the leaked data.

The firm's manager, Peter Thompson, said the staff member admitted giving out the confidential data to a wide range of people over several months, though he said they did not know if the data was directly leaked to Labour.

He said their investigation was continuing.

"We want to make sure that we have checked all our data, all our systems to see if anyone did directly send it to the Labour Party, if in fact it is the data from Barfoot and Thompson that the Labour Party is talking about."

Chief executive officer Wendy Alexander said the kind of information that had been leaked received an unnecessary amount of attention.

"It's inevitable that a significant level of our inquiry with regard to list and sell is going to come from Chinese buyers, there is nothing unusual, unique and scary about that, and we welcome their business."

Labour used sales data it had been given to claim that foreign speculators have ramped up Auckland house prices.

It said this was because the data showed almost 40 percent of buyers in a three-month period had Chinese names.

Home for sale

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The Labour Party said it was extremely disappointing that the company fired the staff member.

Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the "whistleblower", who he worked with, wanted to shine a light on foreign investment pushing up house prices.

Mr Twyford said the data provided an important snapshot of what is happening in the Auckland housing market.

The party had been criticised, this week, for not being transparent and saying where the data came from.

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