Part 3: Meeting of 1 December 2011

Inquiry into aspects of ACC's Board-level governance.

The meeting between Ms Pullar and Mr Verberne took place on 1 December 2011. It was also attended by Michelle Boag and Ms Pullar's support person, and by Phil Murch, ACC's National Manager, Recover Independence Service. Ms Pullar had met Mr Murch about her claim previously.

It has emerged that the meeting of 1 December was recorded without the knowledge of Mr Verberne or Mr Murch. We have not heard the recording nor seen the transcript of it. We have not asked for access to either. Ms Pullar has given us written information about the meeting.

Ms Pullar prepared an agenda for the meeting, which she tabled at the outset. The agenda listed four headings, the first three of which concerned Ms Pullar's claim. The fourth item was "a full list of all ACC breaches of legislation, guidelines and codes will be provided".

We have interviewed Mr Verberne and Mr Murch. They told us that:

  • the main subject of the meeting was Ms Pullar's injury claim and her proposal for settling that claim;
  • the breach of privacy was disclosed to them, but it was not clear to them exactly what had been sent to Ms Pullar or who at ACC had sent it; and
  • they were given a three-page document entitled "Legislation, Guidelines & Code Breach by ACC with Bronwyn's claim", which listed 45 issues (including the breach of other claimants' privacy).

We understand that Mr Murch unsuccessfully searched his email system for the claimant information that had been sent to Ms Pullar, in the mistaken belief that it was he who had sent it to her. He did not search ACC's email systems more generally to try to identify the breach.

Mr Verberne told us that, after the meeting, he left telephone messages for Mr Seymour and Mr Tully. He emailed Mr Seymour, copying Mr Tully, reporting that the meeting had taken place and saying:

We listened to [Ms Pullar's and Ms Boag's] concerns and they submitted a proposal to resolve these and move forward. They also gave us a list of alleged breaches by ACC of the Code, ACC legislation and other legislation. We agreed to consider the information provided and their proposal and get back to them by the end of next week (9 December).

I will try and call you again later to discuss further.

That email did not explicitly mention the privacy breach, but we understand that Mr Verberne later discussed the meeting and the privacy breach with Mr Tully, who briefed Ms Cosgrove. Mr Tully also talked to Mr Seymour. Mr Seymour told us that his advice to Mr Tully was:

  • that Ms Pullar's claim should be managed like any other claim; and
  • to ask for the material from the breach of privacy to be returned.

Mr Seymour said that he told Mr Judge when they next met that the meeting between Ms Pullar and Mr Verberne had taken place.

Mr Murch wrote to Ms Pullar on 8 December 2011 regarding the proposal discussed at the meeting on 1 December. The letter also requested the return of the information about other clients that she said ACC had sent to her.

We asked ACC managers whether there had been any investigation of the list of 45 breaches. We were told that the breaches were so general that it was not possible to investigate them and that Ms Pullar had raised many of them before about her claim.

We understand that there was continuing correspondence between ACC and Ms Pullar through December and in February, but no progress was made on either resolving Ms Pullar's requests or the return of the client information. The next development was the Dominion Post article about the privacy breach on 13 March 2012.

We note that Ralph Stewart, who started as ACC's chief executive on 19 September 2011, had no involvement in, or knowledge of, any of the matters described above until 9 March 2012 when the Dominion Post contacted ACC concerning the privacy breach.

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