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Smith resignation 'truly regrettable' - Pullar

Published: 6:09PM Thursday March 22, 2012 Source: ONE News

The woman at the centre of an ACC privacy breach says she is "very sorry" her friend and former ACC minister Nick Smith lost his ministerial posts.

Smith resigned from his portfolio positions yesterday after it emerged he had sent two letters in support of Pullar's ACC claim.

Smith said he made plain he was writing in the capacity of a friend and he did not intend to interfere in ACC decisions, but admitted it was an "error in judgement".

Pullar told ONE News she does not think Smith's resignation was warranted.

"I think it's very unfair. I think there's been a misunderstanding."

Ask to describe her relationship with Smith, Pullar said she had a "good relationship", but would not comment further,

Pullar suffered head injuries in a 2002 cycling accident and had been battling with ACC over whether her injury affected her ability to work full-time.

In a statement released to media earlier today, Pullar said Smith's resignation was "truly regrettable".

"This was an unintended consequence of my action to campaign on privacy rights and hold ACC to account," she said.

"I know you [Smith] were only trying to help a mate and you've fallen victim to my condition of repetitive behaviour and pestering which is a direct consequence of my head injury."

Pullar was inadvertently sent an email from an ACC employee which contained the private details of 6700 ACC claimants, including victims of sexual abuse and other violent crime.

Pullar said the email was sent in response to her inquiring about the actions of an ACC employee who she believes accessed her claim file without authorisation.

Pullar said she met with ACC representatives in December last year and told them she would not divulge the sensitive data. She said when she passed the email on to a journalist, she removed the personal details.

She said ACC then leaked her name and details to the media.

An ACC report to Minister Judith Collins claimed Pullar threatened to go public about the breach unless the ACC gave her a "guaranteed benefit payment for two years".

Pullar said that was "definitely not" the case.

"This is an outrageous assault and abuse of power by ACC staff," she said.

"The only plausible explanation for managers to report three months after an event that I had threatened them appears designed to cover their butts after the breach became publicly known."

"It is outrageous that ACC has leaked my name and information to the media with deliberate intent to destroy my privacy and reputation."

Pullar said neither the ACC board nor Smith were aware of the breach.

She said she was considering making a formal complaint to police over "ACC's false accusations".

The email leak is the subject of an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner and State Services Commissioner.