The prime minister has announced a review into correspondence between Stuart Nash and donors – and admitted the office of his predecessor knew about the leaked email that prompted Nash’s downfall.
It was revealed yesterday that Nash had divulged details of private cabinet conversations with donors back in 2020. That revelation prompted Nash’s immediate sacking from cabinet yesterday evening.
Speaking ahead of question time today, Chris Hipkins confirmed he had asked the cabinet secretary to conduct the review. It would take about two months, said Hipkins, and Nash will “fully cooperate” with the review.
The review will look at whether there have been any other breaches of cabinet collective responsibility or confidentially, or whether there have been perceived or actual conflicts of interest in communications Nash has had with those donors.
“The scope of this review will be limited to emails, texts and other messages between Stuart Nash and any declared donor to his campaign,” Hipkins said.
The prime minister said that the email at the centre of Nash’s sacking had been picked up in an Official Information Act request at the time but it was deemed out of scope and not released. When this was repeated during question time, National MPs were heard scowling in response, including deputy leader Nicola Willis who called it a “cover up”. That’s because it suggests that former prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s office knew about the email and chose not to act.
Hipkins, however, reiterated that Ardern was not aware of the email herself and nor was her chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Nash, who is expected to publicly reveal his political intentions shortly, has removed his public Facebook page. The Spinoff tried to find it earlier today and found only his personal account. Hipkins had no comment on the deletion of the page.
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