MPs condemn Southern Response's surveillance on quake claimants

The AM Show 09/03/2018

MPs from Labour and National are slamming a Government-owned insurance company that spied on claimants.

Southern Response spent $180,000 of taxpayer money investigating possibly hundreds of Christchurch residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the quakes, Newshub revealed earlier this week.

The company hired private investigators from Thompson and Clark, who infiltrated meetings and gathered information on claimants. Some were labelled "anarchists", and one was even suspected of being capable of murder.

Speaking on The AM Show on Friday, both National MP Judith Collins and Labour's Phil Twyford condemned Southern Response's approach.

Ms Collins said insurance companies like to know their claimants aren't lying, but there should have been more understanding in post-quake Christchurch.

"It certainly would be very upsetting for people if they're not expecting that somebody might turn up at some of their meetings, and I can imagine they wouldn't like this at all. This would be pretty hurtful for them.

"But the reality is insurance companies of any ilk do tend to check these things out. But we all know about the earthquakes, we all know about the genuineness of everything, so I can imagine they're pretty gutted."

Mr Twyford said what Southern Response did was "totally unacceptable".

We should be holding these people to a higher ethical standard.

"It's not good enough to say 'well this is what insurance companies do'. We should be holding these people to a higher ethical standard. It's the Government. Southern Response is the Government insurance company."

Ms Collins said it was more acceptable for a Crown entity like ACC to snoop.

Though she served two stints as Minister of Police in the post-quake years, Ms Collins says she was not aware the spying was happening.

Watch the full interview with Judith Collins and Phil Twyford above. 

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