16 Aug 2012

Lawyer dismisses minister's apology

7:50 am on 16 August 2012

A privacy lawyer describes an apology from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to a beneficiary whose information she released as bordering on meaningless.

The Human Rights Commission has found Ms Bennett was wrong to release details about Natasha Fuller's benefit to the media, after Ms Fuller opposed government cuts to a tertiary training allowance in 2010.

While director of Human Rights Proceedings Robert Hesketh says it was a privacy breach, he is not taking the matter further, saying all parties are satisfied it has now been resolved.

In a letter to the director, Ms Bennett apologises for the media scrutiny Ms Fuller was put under, but refuses to say sorry for releasing her information.

Privacy lawyer Kathryn Dalziel says if the matter was taken further Ms Fuller may have been eligible for up to $40,000 in compensation.

Ms Dalziel says the minister's apology borders on meaningless, because she acknowledges the harm she caused, but says she would do it again.

Beneficiary advocacy group Rotorua Peoples' Union says Ms Bennett's attitude is arrogant.