“The Prime Minister must come clean on the murky details of the lobbyist who once worked as her chief of staff”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.

“Jacinda Ardern told ACT in answers to written parliamentary questions that GJ Thompson took a leave of absence from his roles as a director and shareholder of lobbying firm Thompson Lewis while he was employed as her acting chief of staff between October 2017 and February 2018.

“However, Companies Office records show Mr Thompson remained a director and shareholder throughout this period.

“The Prime Minister needs to immediately set the record straight.

“Answering on behalf of the Prime Minister in Parliament today, Winston Peters was unable to reconcile these conflicting accounts. Peters was eventually saved by an intervention from Speaker Trevor Mallard.

“The Prime Minister has also confirmed to ACT that, while he was her acting chief of staff, Mr Thompson received all Cabinet papers and was briefed on all legislation. Yet, her office appears to have put in place no processes to ensure that he didn’t access material that could benefit his clients.

“As far as we can tell, Mr Thompson retained a duty to act in the best interests of his lobbying firm as a director and retained an ownership interest as a shareholder.

“There was clearly huge potential for a conflict between his personal interests as a lobbyist and his duties as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.

“If the Prime Minister is truly committed to the of ideas of openness and transparency in government, she will tell New Zealanders what roles Mr Thompson held during this period, what material he had access to while he was her chief of staff, and how this conflict was managed.”