The State Services Commission's inquiry into the use of external security consultants

Find information about the inquiry and download related documents released by the Ministry for Primary Industries on 18 December 2018. 

Background to release of documents

In March 2018, the State Services Commission (SSC) initiated an inquiry into the circumstances and reasons for Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's engagement of external security consultants, including but not limited to Thompson & Clark Investigations Ltd (TCIL).

In June 2018, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) provided historic emails, correspondence, and documents exchanged between the former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and MPI employees, and TCIL. This information had been identified by MPI in preparing to respond to an Official Information Act (OIA) request from Radio New Zealand.

As a result of this and other information which surfaced in the SSC inquiry to that point, the SSC widened its inquiry terms of reference to include all state services agencies.

MPI also referred this historic activity to the Serious Fraud Office and undertook its own internal enquiries to understand the extent of any connection between MPI, its predecessor organisations, and TCIL.

MPI material provided to SSC relating to key findings

As a result of these internal enquiries, MPI identified that the former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) received a monthly intelligence report (National Extremism) from TCIL between July 2004 and February 2008. These reports provided intelligence updates on anti-genetic engineering (GE) and animal rights issues. The distribution of these reports was restricted to TCIL clients, and their content was stated as being derived from various open sources.

On 2 occasions within that period, in 2005 and in 2006, and following an approach by TCIL, MAF provided funding to TCIL to attend 2 animal rights-related conferences.

MAF terminated its relationship with TCIL in 2008.

The above information regarding MAF's historic use of TCIL was advised to the SSC inquiry in June 2018.

While the SSC inquiry only asked agencies to review its records for the last 10 years, MPI reviewed records of payments held in its financial systems back to March 2006.

MPI's internal enquiries found no further use of external security consultants beyond the historic use of TCIL by MAF it had already reported to the inquiry team.

Additional MPI information provided to assist the SSC

MPI provided the SSC inquiry team with internal policies and guidance to employees regarding the application of the State Services Code of Conduct. Policies regarding the security of private information and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with other agencies related to the sharing of private information were also provided to the SSC.

In May 2018, MPI commissioned Deloitte to carry out a fraud and corruption risk assessment. This exercise was a planned part of MPI's annual internal audit programme. SSC requested a copy of this assessment, and a summary of this report is provided.

Find out more on the SSC website

The commission's inquiry and all documents

Media release: Inquiry findings

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