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Pettingill directed Permanent Secretary to investigate leak, documents state

Attorney General Mark Pettingill directed his Permanent Secretary to investigate unauthorised disclosure of information from the Civil Service to the Opposition, according to Civil Service documents.

But Mr Pettingill insists that while he was informed about the leak, and asked that the issue be followed up on, he did not “instigate” an investigation.

Last week, we reported that a civil servant in the Attorney General’s Chambers had been disciplined for responding to an e-mailed question from former boss Kim Wilson about the post of executive assistant to the Attorney General.

Shadow Finance Minister David Burt subsequently alleged on ZBM News that the Government had engaged in a witch hunt after the civil servant tried to “serve the public interest” by giving information to the Opposition.

The information disclosed concerned the hiring of the Attorney General’s executive assistant.

A letter to the civil servant by Permanent Secretary Kathy Lightbourne Simmons, obtained by this newspaper, begins: “On April 3, 2013, I was directed by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs to investigate concerns relating to the unauthorised disclosure of information regarding operations of the Ministry of Legal Affairs to persons outside of the Government.”

He rejected the Opposition claims saying that the focus should not be on the civil servant but on Kim Wilson, the Shadow Attorney General, who had requested the information from the civil servant and said that the OBA Government cannot conduct an investigation.

“It’s the principle and the rules are very, very strict. They are not the Government rules. Those are the standing rules of the Civil Service. That everyone knows, everybody signs up to.

“So the OBA Government — and this is where the nonsense is — can’t come in and do a witch hunt. We can’t do an investigation.”

He did not indicate to this newspaper that he had influenced the investigation into the matter when he was asked his response to Mr Burt’s allegations.

Last night Mr Pettingill said: “I was informed about the situation and I certainly would have said ‘let’s follow up on that. And please keep me informed’.”

Asked whether it was inaccurate to say that he directed the investigation, Mr Pettingill said he would not go against what his PS said but “that is not to say that I instigated the investigation”.

He added: “If the shoe was on the other foot, they would be calling for someone’s hide and you know it. She was out of order for making the request. That’s the issue here.

“My understanding is that Kim Wilson apologised to the civil servant for putting her in that position.”

Attorney General Mark Pettingill

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Published May 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 17, 2013 at 12:48 am)

Pettingill directed Permanent Secretary to investigate leak, documents state

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