Full text of Voices For Freedom Statement released this evening.
We are aware of an accusation circulating that “VFF were given this [MOH] data a while ago and refused to deliver it to the public.” Like other information released by this same individual recently, this information, is incorrect. The person making the claims failed to contact us about her statements to hear the other side of the story. Had she done so, she would have learned the following…
The whistleblower contacted us a couple of years ago. We kept in touch, and he wanted to wait until he had a more substantial data set. We checked in periodically and had a legal team and investigative journalist ready to tackle the story in 2021. Despite this, he was not ready to speak up.
It turns out that VFF was one of a number of organisations contacted by the whistleblower over the past two years. In fact, one organisation worked for eight months with the whistleblower in 2022/23, investing time, money, and travel on devising an arrangement for him to send the data set to independent data analysts overseas.
Against that backdrop, out of the blue, the whistleblower told Liz Gunn about the data in the hope that she would be able to help through Parliamentary privilege. Of course that was dependent on Liz being successfully elected to government, which did not eventuate. Instead, Liz put out a teaser video against the whistleblower’s wishes, which undercut entirely the organisation he’d been working with.
The whistleblower told us he was disappointed with this action and asked for our help to make contact with a specific influential team overseas.
Given everything that had happened: the contacting of the various groups, the investment of time already made by the other organisation and the problematic way the story had been broken without any comprehensive analysis to accompany it, we suggested that the whistleblower go back to the organisation he had been working with to honour those efforts.
It would have been wrong for us to swoop in. It would have been professionally disrespectful for us to “take over the story”.
On Friday, Dr Matt Shelton from NZDSOS joined Peter Williams on RCR. He called for people to “take a breath” and wait for the data to be appropriately analysed. We share this sentiment.
Nick Hudson of PANDA has also voiced concerns, noting his team’s questions after looking at the data and the need for a more definitive analysis. Other analysts, including Norman Fenton and Igor Chudov have also now queried the data set, noting it is an incomplete data set and that the data that is there suggests a biased sample.
Notwithstanding all the above, we hope that additional independent assessment of the data by credible analysts will lead to further scrutiny of the vaccine rollout in NZ (rather than the opposite) and that the whistleblower will not have risked everything for nothing.
In summary, we did not ‘refuse’ to deliver the information to the public. We never saw the data or had it in our possession.
Had we agreed to interact with the data, we would have:
- Remained silent until the data had been safely delivered to multiple overseas expert data analysts for assessment, obtained the results of that analysis then made a decision whether or not to proceed.
- Arranged for a publicly respected journalist to break the story so that it had the best chance of getting the attention of everyday New Zealanders.
- Ensured the whistleblower had access to the best legal advice to reduce the likelihood of his exposure to liability.
- Kept the release of such information short, to the point, and free from unnecessary emotional overlay.
- Shared any damning results with our international network of influential experts, scientists and analysts for maximum impact.
- We intend to continue to cover this story on Reality Check Radio in the coming days and weeks. You can listen to Peter Williams talking to British MP Andrew Bridgen on Friday about the data and his upcoming presentation to the UK Parliament on Monday and tune in on Monday morning when Paul will be catching up with Steve Kirsch.