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22nd of October 2018

International



CTO fiasco makes it 'hard to trust' Jacinda Ardern, Simon Bridges says

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Derek Handley was the preferred candidate a month ago, but was not offered it.

Kevin Stent

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Derek Handley was the preferred candidate a month ago, but was not offered it.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says the prime minister misled Kiwis over when the chief technology officer role was offered to Derek Handley. 

He called attention to an apparent discrepancy between when Handley said he was offered the job, and Jacinda Ardern's comments on the recruitment process. 

On August 24, Ardern described Handley as a "qualified and capable candidate" for the role. She indicated a decision was still to be made, with the appointment process in its "final stages". 

Derek Handley, says on LinkedIn he was offered the job a month ago, the Prime Minister says this is not correct.

STACY SQUIRES/STUFF

Derek Handley, says on LinkedIn he was offered the job a month ago, the Prime Minister says this is not correct.

This week, Handley said he was offered and accepted the position a month ago.

READ MORE:* Chief technology officer fiasco a spectacular own goal* Derek Handley was offered CTO job before it was put on hold, says source* Derek Handley receives $107k in compensation after being dumped as chief technology officer

Bridges called this Ardern's "second recent timing lapse" after she told the media a week ago that she wouldn't fire Curran "when she knew her wayward minister had already resigned". 

Simon Bridges says the PM misled Kiwis over the timing of the chief technology officer job offer.

BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF

Simon Bridges says the PM misled Kiwis over the timing of the chief technology officer job offer.

However, a spokesman for the prime minister said Handley was "inaccurate" to say he'd been offered the job a month ago. 

While Handley may have been the "preferred candidate" at this point, "he did not have a full and final signed-off agreement," he said. 

"There is no discrepancy. At that time [August 24] Derek Handley was still in the recruitment process."

The Government will pay Derek Handley $107,500 in compensation after telling him he would become the country's first chief technology officer and then withdrawing the offer.

Bridges slammed the "non-appointment" as an "expensive shambles" that would cost the taxpayer. 

He said while the PM "is allowed to be friends with Mr Handley", the public deserves to know the level of personal friendship and must be assured there were no direct communications between them about the appointment.

"The Prime Minister also needs to assure New Zealanders that the handling of Mr Handley's citizenship was above board, since he was quoted back in March saying: 'The Government changed and in its first month, this was done'," he said. 

"Until she comes clean about the Handley saga it will be hard to trust her assurances on anything." 

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