Curran again under fire

Clare Curran is again under fire for alleged inappropriate communications with the RNZ. Photo: Lynn Grieveson.

Broadcasting and communications minister Clare Curran has again found herself in hot water after it emerged that she contacted RNZ Chair Richard Griffin last week about correcting an inaccurate claim Griffin made in select committee. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would have been preferable if someone else had contacted Griffin.

National’s broadcasting spokeswoman Melissa Lee questioned Curran in the house on Tuesday, saying that Curran had advised Griffin not to appear in the committee this Thursday and to correct the record by letter instead. The implication of this would be that Griffin would avoid appearing before the media at the committee and the issue would vanish from the news cycle.

Curren responded that when she heard Griffin would not be able to attend the committee last week, she called him to advise “that it would be preferable to send a letter that day before 1pm to correct the record”.

Griffin will be returning to select committee this week to correct the record of his previous select committee appearance where he had said that a meeting between Curran and RNZ Head of News Carol Hirschfeld was coincidental. It emerged last week that the meeting had been prearranged and Hirschfeld had misled her RNZ. Hirschfeld then resigned.

Curran had told reporters earlier that she did not issue an official instruction, but relayed advice given to her by the Office of the Leader of the House.

She rebuffed the suggestion that she was trying to bury the issue.

“I was trying to get the record corrected as quickly as possible,” she said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today that it would have been "preferable under the circumstances" for either the Leader of the House or the Chair of the Select Committee to contact Griffin.