16 Jul 2010

Ministry tightens rules after leak inquiry

6:13 pm on 16 July 2010

The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has tightened the rules around the handling of sensitive documents, after one of its briefing papers was leaked to a Radio New Zealand reporter.

The paper contained details about the controversial decision to award nearly $5 million to the Pacific Economic Development Agency, or PEDA.

The investigation was carried out by a former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Neil Walter, who spoke with 31 people as well as reviewing the relevant documents and phone and email traffic.

Mr Walter was unable to draw any conclusions as to how the document was leaked and who was responsible for leaking it.

He did find that, while there were systems in place to deal with sensitive documents, they were not always adhered to. As a result, ministry staff in future will be able to view sensitive documents only on a need-to-know basis.

Chief executive Colin Tukuitonga says the ministry will change its internal communications system and give staff regular reminders about handling official documents.