MYSTERY surrounds an alleged cover-up initiated by an employee of a government body funded partly by farmer levies.
Peak vegetable body AusVeg emailed what it considered sensitive biosecurity information to key members including Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief Jan Davis late last year.
The information was not specifically marked as confidential, although AusVeg generally considers information given to key members to be so.
Ms Davis, also a board member at Plant Health Australia, passed it on to a PHA employee, who emailed AusVeg about it.
AusVeg asked the employee how they had received what it considered a confidential document and enlisted IT experts to investigate.
Some days later, the employee told AusVeg they had received the information through an anonymous message on professional networking site LinkedIn - and forwarded an electronic chain to AusVeg supporting that version of events.
But LinkedIn has since asserted the trail is not genuine. And Ms Davis has openly stated she passed on the information.
The apparent cover-up and bogus email trail was not disclosed to PHA chief Greg Fraser and he's "not rapt" with the situation.
He said the employee's actions did not constitute a "sacking offence, according to our lawyers".
The employee would be "dealt with internally" and action taken would be kept private, he said.
The employee would not comment other than to say the matter would be dealt with internally.
Neither AusVeg nor Ms Davis would comment. No one has tried to explain why a PHA employee would go to such lengths to apparently cover up the source of seemingly benign information.
It forces one to wonder how much more there is to this story.
If there is no more to it and the alleged cover-up occurred over information which was not marked "confidential" and was genuinely boring (discussing a potato disease), why would anyone risk so much to hide the incident?
Furthermore, the source of the information would seem blatantly obvious - Ms Davis being a key AusVeg member also on the PHA board - and she made no attempt to hide she had passed the information on.
The episode beggars belief.
PHA is the government body which protects forestry, horticulture and grain from disease.
PHA is two-thirds government funded and also takes money from horticulture and grain levies.
Most levy-funded horticulture bodies pay a membership to PHA.