ACC, Privacy, Blackmail, Michelle Boag and Judith Collins

You have heard by now the breach of up to 9,000 of ACC’s clients privacy in the last 10 days or so, clients that have sensitive claims, and clients whose details in part were emailed to Bronwyn Pullar by accident.

The details were among more than 9000 ACC claims – some featuring well-known people – that were emailed to a person who should not have received them, in what is being described as one of the worst privacy breaches in New Zealand history.

Since we have heard of that part of the story there has been a claim of blackmail if an ‘unnamed client’ wasn’t guaranteed a benefit for at least two years.

In a report to ACC Minister Judith Collins on Friday, ACC said the unnamed client threatened to send the information to the media unless her benefit payments were guaranteed for two years.

“She made threats that if her demands were not met she would not return the information and she would inform the media of the alleged privacy issue.”

The then ‘unnamed client’ is Bronwyn Pullar.

The latest twist in this story is that ex National Party President, Michelle Boag, is a friend of Ms. Pullars and was at the meeting where the alleged blackmail was said to have occurred. Ms. Boag was acting as an advocate for her friend.

But National Party insider Michelle Boag, who supported Ms Pullar at her initial meeting with ACC over the privacy breach, said it was an ACC staff member who suggested an arrangement could be made, the Herald on Sunday reports.

“In the meeting he said if we agree on this as a way forward, a condition would have to be that you return the information,” she said.

Ms Boag said ACC later wrote to Ms Pullar, offering a single year’s benefit for a head injury Ms Pullar suffered nine years ago in a bike accident.

From this mornings NZ Herald we now find that the breach of privacy for Pullar has potentially been breached over this meeting.

Media and privacy specialist lawyer Stephen Price said last night that, if the breach came from the minister’s office or ACC, there would be good grounds for a complaint to be made to the privacy commissioner.

So we’re in this weird murky area now where is Ms. Pullar has tried to blackmail ACC with the ‘support’ of Michelle Boag, then she may still be able to get some money out of them due to her privacy being breached from a leaked email between Boag and ACC and that leak seems to have come via the ministers office Judith Collins.

I tell you what, who needs to watch soap operas.