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Investigation report on confidentiality breach released

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An investigation into whether confidential information about Hastings District Council’s Water Central proposal was improperly disclosed has concluded it was, but has not been able to identify the source of the disclosure.

In October last year, investigator Alastair Hall was instructed by Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle to carry out the review after Hawke's Bay Today published confidential information relating to a proposed water facility in late September.

Mr Hall was tasked with determining if there was an improper disclosure of information on two separate occasions, and, if so, the source of the leak.

He was also tasked with providing recommendations on improving internal systems and processes relating to confidential information including ‘public excluded’ agenda items and council meetings.

The report concluded there had been an improper disclosure of a public-excluded agenda item or information related to it, and a ‘strong inference’ one or more councillors, directly or indirectly, had improperly disclosed information from councillor-only meetings.  The investigation was unable to identify the source for either action.

Mr Bickle said the report noted hard copies of council agendas could be shared without leaving a digital footprint.

“While this review was unable to be conclusive in relation to the source of the leak, it has resulted in a set of recommendations for improving council’s processes around access to confidential information.

“The report made recommendations relating to policy, process and technology, some of which have already been implemented. We will continue to work through the recommendations to minimise the risk of improper disclosures in the future.”

The total cost for the investigation and final report was $25,117.06 + GST.

Read the full report here

3 June 2020

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