Even a stopped clock ...

The Speaker has found that Peter Dunne could not have commited a contempt of Parliament. Told you so.

Peter Dunne has a press release up on scoop.co.nz claiming that the Speaker has exonerated him from lying about any role he may have had in leaking the Kitteridge report on the GCSB: 

The Speaker has dismissed a breach of privilege complaint that had been laid by Labour following the Henry Report into the leaking of the Kitteridge Report, which led to Mr Dunne’s resignation as a Minister.

“I welcome the Speaker’s decision to dismiss the complaint and his ruling that my answers did not deliberately mislead the Finance and Expenditure Committee, nor were in contempt of Parliament.

“Although the Henry Report made no allegation against me, nor challenged any of my evidence, its excessive focus on circumstantial matters led to unfounded inferences and innuendos that have not only damaged my reputation, but also made it impossible for me to continue as a Minister.

“Today’s ruling that I did not deliberately mislead the Finance and Expenditure Committee effectively clears me, which I welcome, and it means I can now move forward with confidence once more and put this unfortunate whole situation behind me.

While I don't know the basis of the Speaker's ruling (more on that in a second), the conclusion that there is no possible issue of contempt does not surprise me. As I wrote here:

Given this fact, the question then becomes whether a witness before a select committee misleads it if she or he falsely answers a question that wasn't relevant to the committee's proceedings in the first place. Or, instead, did Peter Dunne simply deliberately attempt mislead Winston Peters ... in which case, there's no contempt of Parliament involved. Because contempt relates to the work of the House of Representatives as an institution, not to the individuals within it: it isn't, for example, a contempt of Parliament for an MP to tell a barefaced lie to another MP during a public debate on the campaign trail ... but it is for a Minister to lie to an MP who asks her or him a question in the House.

So there's an at least tenable argument that even if you think Dunne lied, he didn't lie to the House (or a committee of the House). I which case, there is no contempt and so no question of privilege to be considered.

I then followed that up in this post by saying:

[L]ooking forward, I can now confidently predict that the privileges complaint lodged against Peter Dunne by David Shearer will not be referred to the Privileges Committee by the Speaker. Having freed himself of a perception that he's twisting Standing Orders to protect Dunne, David Carter is free to determine that any misleading answer that Dunne may have given to Winston Peters could not mislead the House, as the questions asked were not relevant to the House's business. 

So - for once in my life it seems like I made a correct prediction. I'll bank this against the various future predictions that I will make which will turn out to be horribly wrong. But one last little point before I let the issue go.

I very much doubt the Speaker has concluded that Peter Dunne did not lie when he told Winston Peters that he did not leak the Kitteridge report. Instead, I suspect the Speaker has found that any possible lie did not occur in the course of a proceeding of Parliament, thus could not be a contempt of the House. So I would be cautious about treating the Speaker's ruling as "effectively clearing" Dunne of the accusation that he was the leaker ... at least until I see the precise wording of the Speaker's ruling.