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Investigation into Horowhenua District Council’s email quarantining practice

Ombudsmen Act 1975
District Council
Peter Boshier
Case number(s):
459861, 459877, 462166, 465831 and 470152
Issue date:

Between 2011 and 2017, the Horowhenua District Council kept a list of people whose emails were deemed to pose a risk to staff. This list included the names of some of the Council’s own elected officials. Anyone on the list who attempted to email Council staff would automatically have their emails diverted to the Chief Executive to be vetted.

During this time, the Council did not have formal policy in place regarding the quarantining of emails, which meant this practice went largely unchecked. A high proportion of the emails that were quarantined did not appear to reach all of their intended recipients.

Five of the individuals who were added to this email quarantine list complained to my Office.

Based on the information before me, I have formed the opinion that the Council acted unreasonably. The Council’s email quarantine practice ran contrary to the principles of transparency, accountability and fairness. I recommend that the Council apologise to the five complainants, but I do not consider it is necessary to recommend any further action given the Council has addressed the administrative issues I identified by ceasing this practice and introducing a new email quarantining policy.

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