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False and misleading information provided during OPC Investigation

Bridget Morison made this Official Information request to Privacy Commissioner

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From: Bridget Morison

Dear Privacy Commissioner,

There are 2 parts to my request. The first relates to compliance and honesty of agencies and persons during an investigation and the second is the privilege status of the bundle of documents and information compiled during an investigation.

The nature of the information and investigation was related to ACC sensitive claims and it involved healthcare professionals and Doctors falsifying records, and other healthcare providers and agencies providing false and misleading information. As a consequence of the investigation, estranged family members have received highly sensitive personal information and counselling records. That includes family members involved in sexual abuse.

1) Your office investigated an agency in 2019 for withholding information. Your findings were that no information was withheld or it no longer existed. The assistant investigator explained your office relies on agencies being honest and you take them at their word. We should be able to take them at their word.

The agency being complained about, and others directly and indirectly involved, intentionally provided false and misleading information to evade their own privacy (and ethical) obligations and responsibilities, or to assist those of the agency that was under investigation. At a much later date, by fact and deduction, I learned what occurred, who was involved and information you were provided which influenced your investigation, your findings and decisions in that investigation and subsequent ones.

Providing false and misleading information to your Office under the current and previous iterations of the Act is considered an offence.

Please provide a copy of or link to:
a) Policy, guidelines, reports, position statements and/or briefings explaining how your Office protects individuals when reliance is placed solely on an agency being honest and compliant in their obligations to your Office during an investigation. This includes all documentation provided to your staff to assist them in their enquiries or investigations.

b) With a date range of 10 years - data showing how many agencies your Office has investigated, or have been involved in an investigation, when it's become known that false and/or misleading information or identities have been used. That is, how many agencies or individuals are known to have been non-complaint and/or dishonest during the course of an investigation but your Office has not made them liable.

c) With a date range of 10 years - data showing how many agencies and/or individuals have been held liable for non-compliance and/or dishonesty under the PA.

d) Information provided to agencies being investigated, or to other agencies or individuals involved, during an investigation advising that non-compliance and dishonesty is an offence under the Act.

e) Information showing reasons why you may choose not to make agencies or individuals liable for false or misleading information.

2) Privilege status and use of information obtained during an investigation:
The investigation bundle, in part or in whole, was shared amongst people who were not involved in the investigation. This has been ongoing.

The investigation information, documents, or things, or any information derived, are privileged and with some exceptions the Commissioner and staff are to maintain secrecy in respect of all matters that come to their knowledge in the exercise of their functions under the Act. Persons and agencies involved in an investigation are given protection.

Please provide
a) Policy, guidelines, reports, position statements and/or briefings showing how your office has considered the privilege of information obtained during an investigation and how you manage the protection of the complainant when investigation information is disclosed to multiple agencies or individuals involved during the investigation process. When making decisions about the withholding of information, the Act specifies you're not to take into account any information in a document when forming opinions, that is not going to be the case for participants of an investigation.

b) Policy and position statements, guidelines, reports or other information which shows the Commissioners perspective of the privilege status of investigation information, and how (or if) that information can be used by agencies and/or individuals who were involved in the investigation. If documents and information are not available to the complainant but are used by an agency whilst still kept secret, then the individual doesn't have right of correction (which may also be via additional and relevant context) or defence, and the investigation participants have greater powers afforded to them than the Commissioner does.

Yours faithfully,

Bridget Morison

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From: OIA
Privacy Commissioner

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Attachment 2023 03 15 response to OIA.pdf
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Attachment 2021 06 25 Practice Note protections for complaint investigation information and limits on disclosures.pdf
179K Download View as HTML

Attachment 2022 Decision Guide DRAFT ONLY A816422.pdf
553K Download View as HTML

Tçnâ koe


Please find attached the Privacy Commissioner’s response to your official
information request plus a further two attachments.




Aku mihi


Sharyn Leonard

Executive Assistant (Legal) | Kaiâwhina Mâtâmua, Taha Ture


Office of the Privacy Commissioner  Te Mana Mâtâpono Matatapu
PO Box 10094, The Terrace, Wellington 6143



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