“The mask of kindness has fallen off Jacinda's Government. Chris Hipkins' use of Charlotte Bellis's personal information to publicly attack her is reckless and nasty,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Hipkins released a statement yesterday in a desperate effort to save face over the Bellis saga. Charlotte has now confirmed on social media that the Minister did not have her permission to release private details of her case.

“It's always wrong for Ministers to breach the law, and it appears he has breached the Privacy Act, but in these circumstances it is menacing.

“Hipkins should have asked himself the simple question: 'What could happen if I reveal personal information about a citizen in a dangerous part of the world?'

“Imagine being in a dangerous part of the world, knowing that your own Government will breach your privacy to publicly reveal information about you.

“Throughout this pandemic the Government has repeatedly said it can’t comment on individual cases. That was until an individual case threatened the Government’s popularity.

“Charlotte Bellis said on Twitter last night that she did not give her permission for Hipkins to give details of her case. Worse still, many of the details were incorrect.

“Her lawyer has since confirmed that she wasn’t in Afghanistan in December as Hipkins claimed and since then she hasn’t been offered consular assistance.

“Hipkins needs to apologise to Charlotte Bellis. It’s entirely unacceptable for a Minister of the Crown to release private details without permission, especially when they’re wrong, just to save face. Ministers have previously been sued for releasing private details.

“But more importantly, it’s time for the Government to use this as a wake up call. Instead of scrapping with New Zealand citizens, it should use its energy to scrap MIQ for fully vaccinated and negative tested New Zealanders. It’s time to do what’s right and let Kiwis come home.

“Jacinda came in promising kindness. If ever one event betrayed a lie, Hipkins' behaviour towards Bellis shows this Government is actually nastier than any since Muldoon.”