Radio New Zealand chairman Richard Griffin says Carol Hirschfeld stuck to meeting claim for four months
Radio New Zealand’s chairman Richard Griffin says he uncovered the discrepancies about Carol Hirschfeld’s account of a secret meeting with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran after a tipoff.
Griffin says a personal source contacted him late last week to tell him that the meeting between Hirschfeld, Radio NZ’s head of content, and Curran was not coincidental and was in fact scheduled in the minister’s diary.
Hirschfeld had initially and repeatedly claimed to Radio NZ bosses that she bumped into Curran at a Wellington cafe by chance.
She assured RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson the December 5 meeting was coincidental, leading Thompson and Griffin to inadvertently provide incorrect information to Parliament.
So the Minister of Broadcasting is busted meeting a senior RNZ staff member on the quiet and the Staffer has had to resign for lying that the meeting was pure coincidence.
After the off the record meeting, Radio NZ announced a new content deal with The Spinoff.
Melissa Lee, one of the least effective National MPs ever is the one who is destroying Curran in Parliament, that’s more concerning than what has been revealed, and what has been revealed is deeply concerning!
You can’t have the Broadcasting Minister secretly meeting RNZ staff before you are looking to pour enormous amounts of cash into them, and if you do, you do it in a way far more clever than this!
What is every other independent media outlet who might be interested in applying for this funding supposed to think? That you have to have secret meetings with the Minister?
Some will say Hirschfeld quitting is unfair but if it had been Judith Collins meeting Richard Griffen in a secret off the record meeting and then RNZ announced a new content sharing deal with Kiwiblog, there would be all hell to pay, but the bigger political issue for Labour is how the hell this leaked out?
Who is the rat inside Labour? Only someone who had access to the Minister’s Diary would know the answers given were false, and that would be someone inside the Government’s staff.
UPDATE: Hilariously, it turns out that Curran outed herself
• Dec 5: Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran meets with RNZ head of news Carol Hirschfeld at Astoria Cafe in Wellington and discusses, among other things, the future of RNZ.
• Dec 5: Media commentator John Drinnan blogs about the meeting, saying any discussions about the future of RNZ should be with board chairman Richard Griffin or chief executive Paul Thompson.
• Dec 7: National MP and broadcasting spokeswoman Melissa Lee asks Curran for a list of meetings with RNZ staff since Dec 1. Curran initially answers that she met Thompson, Hirschfeld and other senior RNZ staff on Dec 7.
• Feb 20: Lee uses Question Time to ask Curran about meeting with Hirschfeld. Curran eventually says she did not list the meeting in her written answer because she did not consider it to be an official meeting.
• Feb 21: Curran corrects her answer to Lee’s Dec 7 question, adding her Dec 5 meeting with Hirschfeld.
• March 1: At a select committee Lee questions Thompson and Griffin about the meeting and is told it was a chance encounter.
• March 1: Curran hears about the select committee hearing and her office tells RNZ that the meeting was pre-planned. Thompson asks Hirschfeld about the meeting again, and Hirschfeld reassures him it was a chance encounter.
• March 22: Curran’s office contacts RNZ again to tell them the meeting was pre-planned.
• March 25: Following a tip-off to Griffin, Hirschfeld is asked again and admits the meeting was pre-arranged.
• March 27: Hirschfeld resigns. Curran says it was a mistake to say the meeting was informal and unofficial. Jacinda Ardern says Curran should have corrected her answer to the written question sooner, but has full confidence in the minister.