Sep 172010
 September 17, 2010  Breaches, Non-U.S.

A commentary:

ACT MP David Garrett resigned from ACT last night. His resignation followed revelations that he had stolen a dead baby’s identity to get a passport “as a prank” in 1984 and that he had a previously unknown arrest in 2002 in another matter that was discharged without conviction in 2005. In a resignation statement, Garrett referred to the ID theft:

I can do nothing to change the past. For any number of reasons, I wish I had not done such a stupid and dreadfully hurtful thing in 1984. When my wrongdoing was revealed, the worst aspect of it all for me was reading the letters written by the mother and sister of the dead boy whose identity I used to obtain the passport.

As a result of my own actions, my political career is almost certainly over, but that is not my greatest concern. The worst aspect of all of this for me is that those who have seen fit to do so have opened the wounds of the boy’s mother and sister all over again. As the person who inflicted those wounds in the first place – however unwittingly – I must take ultimate responsibility for that.

I wrote letters of apology at the time – letters I realised were woefully inadequate, but there was nothing else I could do. I wish to reiterate my profound regret for the distress and hurt my thoughtless actions inflicted on two women, one of whom is elderly. I am simply unable to imagine how it must have felt at the time they first learned of what I had done, and I am equally unable to imagine what they must feel now.

I still well recall my horror when I read the letters from the boy’s relatives, one of them in the handwriting of a clearly elderly lady. I do not think I have ever felt worse. There is certainly no excuse for what I did, and I make none.

Garrett has indicated that he will take two weeks off from Parliament to decide whether to continue as an independent MP or to resign entirely.

His resignation statement reiterates the theme that he “unwittingly” caused emotional harm to the family of the dead baby.

Does NZ need witless MPs? If so, we have an abundance of witless politicians here in the U.S. that we can try to export. If not, then Garrett should resign entirely. And if he doesn’t resign, then he should devote his energy to strengthening the laws in NZ to prevent identity theft so that other families are spared what this family suffered. As has often maintained, the worst consequences of ID theft are not necessarily financial.

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