The Auckland High Court today dismissed Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ allegations that his privacy was breached by the leak to media of his superannuation repayments in 2017.
Mr Peters sued then-National ministers Anne Tolley and deputy Paula Bennett, the Ministry of Social Development, its former chief Brendan Boyle and State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes.
He alleged the department heads were wrong to brief their respective ministers under the "no surprises" policy.
The court ruled Mr Peters wasn’t able to establish that any of the parties were responsible for the media leaks.
It also ruled Ms Tolley and Ms Bennett had “a genuine interest in knowing the details of the payment irregularity” and, therefore, Mr Boyle and Mr Hughes had disclosed the information “for a proper purpose”.
However, the ruling also said Mr Peters' private information shouldn't have been disclosed to the media.
"The deliberate disclosure of that private information to the media sources caused Mr Peters harm and distress, but ultimately it was mitigated by the actions he took."
Mr Peters could not identify the source of the leak.
"If Mr Peters could have identified who disclosed his private information to the media then damages in the region of $75,000 to $100,000 in total might have been appropriate."
Had Mr Peters been successful, taxpayers could have footed the bill for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages he sought.
"Costs are reserved. If counsel are unable to agree, costs will be dealt with on the papers," the court ruling stated.