Posts by Russell Brown

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  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    The other possibility about the police activity is that they are doing nothing about the other allegations and are doing this vindictively – it could swing either way.

    Or ... that they do in fact plan to go hard on the other criminal complaints and have done this so they can be seen to show no favour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness,

    Also: Slater's legal dispute with Matt Blomfield, whose stolen communications (literally, in this case, given that Blomfield has been deprived of possession of a hard drive) Slater has used in the most malicious way.

    The judge really got it right here:

    Slater appealed to the High Court and in a decision released today, Justice Raynor Asher said the definition of a journalist under the Evidence Act could include a blogger.

    "The Whale Oil website was a news medium in that it was disseminating new and recent stories of public interest. While its style and focus can be criticised, it was breaking news to a significant section of the New Zealand public," Justice Asher said.

    The judge said that Slater was a journalist and could invoke source protection under the Evidence Act.

    However, the judge also granted orders sought by Blomfield that this section of the law not apply to Slater in this case.

    There was a "public interest" in the disclosure of the identity of Slater's informants, Justice Asher said.

    "There is a real public interest in those who claim that they are defamed being able to fully explore the circumstances of the defamation..." the judge said.

    This was not a whistle blower case and it seemed the information was obtained illegally by sources, which diminished the importance of protecting them, the judge said.

    "Moreover, any concern at the chilling effect of disclosure of sources is lessened when the subject matter of the material originally disclosed has the mark of a private feud, and features abusive and vindictive language."

    In short, the judge said "Sure, you can be considered a journalist. But what you're doing right here? Not journalism." Good decision.

    The full decision is here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Are you now happy for the police to similarly descend in force on the homes and offices of, say, Matt Nippert and David Fisher and take whatever they fancy? Can you conceive of the chilling implications of this?

    Happy? No. But as I say, I’m not sure they are or should be somehow inherently immune to it either. They should have recourse and an opportunity to defend the position and the privileged position of their information, but isn’t that ultimately a decision for a court anyway?

    Come on.

    Let’s look at two somewhat similar cases under the current government:

    1. The SFO seeking to seize Matt Nippert’s notes on the South Canterbury Finance story. Even thought it was not constrained by the Evidence Act, the SFO didn’t come in, clear his desk and seize his devices. It negotiated with NBR and eventually reached an agreement that would protect Nippert’s sources.

    2. The police serving search warrants on major media organisations during the 2011 election campaign, consequent to Key’s “teapot tapes” complaint. Again, the police didn’t just walk in and clean out the newsrooms. RNZ, TVNZ and the HoS were able to contest the warrants. They didn’t just have all kinds of stuff seized and get told to go to court to get it back.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    The benefit of the doubt I’m giving they police is that they know better than we armchair critics how to manage there resources. I really don’t see anything here that screams of excess in their approach to the case.

    Can you cite a single similar instance?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Access: You Can Call Me Brave Now,

    Just to let everyone know: Chelle has had her amputation, and while she's been dealing with pain and discomfort in recent days, the surgical side of things seems to have gone very well. Let's all hope her recovery is swift.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness,

    Labour speaks up:

    Journalists have right to protect sources

    Legal authorities must respect the right of journalist Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material for his Dirty Politics book under Section 68 of the Evidence Act, Acting Labour Leader David Parker says.

    “It is crucial in an open democracy that journalists are not forced to reveal their sources so whistle-blowers feel able to come forward with information.

    “While we respect the Police’s independence, we are concerned that an arm of the state appears to be being used against Mr Hager while nothing appears to be being done about the wrongdoing he exposed.

    “A 10-hour search of their family home would be harrowing for anyone. Nicky Hager was doing what the fourth estate ought to do and Police need to take care to protect his rights, and to avoid the appearance of intimidating the media.

    “At the time of the 2011 election media offices including TV3, TVNZ, the Herald on Sunday and Radio New Zealand were raided over the so-called tea-pot tapes. That resulted in a legally questionable ‘deemed guilty’ verdict by the Prime Minister in concert with the Police despite their being no actual prosecution and arguable defences. Other recent undermining of media freedom included the Serious Fraud Office demanding the NBR hand over documents about South Canterbury Finance.

    “Nicky Hager’s book revealed serious wrongdoings including inappropriate conduct towards Government regulators the SFO and the Financial Markets Authority. It also showed misuse of power in the Prime Minister’s own office including the orchestrated use of SFO information for political purposes, and accessing of the Labour Party database. The allegations concerning Minister Judith Collins led to her resignation.

    “As far as the public is currently aware, the wrongdoing exposed in Nicky Hager’s book is not being investigated with the same vigour as blogger Cameron Slater’s complaint about his emails being hacked.

    “It is important that journalists’ rights are respected and that the Police are seen to be acting in a balanced way in respect of these politically charged issues,” David Parker says.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    You say rather ingeniously that Hager was just ” a witness” but he was more than that as he clearly profited from a crime

    Could we please get over the idea that Hager’s motive was personal enrichment? His journalism is many things – lucrative isn’t one of them. And as others have pointed out, the word "witness" isn't mine -- it's the police's.

    It can be said ( certainly from the Left ) ” that it was for the public good” but let us let the Courts make that decision

    Hager’s legal position here is pretty solid, as you’d realise if you’d bothered to read the Nicole Moreham analysis that I linked to.

    And while we are doing that lets see what real motivation was behind all this

    Like what?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Ultimately we don’t know what resources within the police are being spent on what. It’s taken them months to even get to Hager who is very clearly a key point of the investigation so it’s not unreasonable to assume it’s not a super high priority.

    Six weeks, actually, with an election intervening.

    And you need to stop pretending this is standard conduct. It isn’t. It’s an unwarranted fishing expedition involving the seizure of a wide range of material.

    The typically cautious Ursula Cheer said:

    University of Canterbury media law professor Ursula Cheer said Hager had legal grounds to oppose the warrant or the way it was carried out.

    “I think some of his objections could be justified,” she said. “I am surprised it took 10 hours and it sounds odd that it needed to be done when he wasn’t there."

    And:

    Law professor Ursula Cheer told Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley warrants can be challenged on the basis they’re too broad.

    “That they’re more like a fishing expedition and indeed you can challenge a search for not being carried out in a reasonable way as well so that is possible.”

    Ursula Cheer says police are entitled to carry out searches against media, as long as they don’t prevent news from getting out.

    They’ve almost certainly taken a large quantity of unrelated material, along with Hager’s tools of trade and family possessions, and are now saying it’s up to Hager to take costly legal action to get it back. It’s outrageous.

    Are you now happy for the police to similarly descend in force on the homes and offices of, say, Matt Nippert and David Fisher and take whatever they fancy? Can you conceive of the chilling implications of this?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Doing over the witness, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I think it’s pretty legit to say that the cops should investigate the possible interference of a senior minister in a major criminal investigation before they raid the homes of any journalists.

    There may be a partial excuse there, in that the minister is currently the subject of an official inquiry. But the terms of reference of that inquiry -- bizarrely -- exclude Odgers, Slater and Graham, so there would seem to be less of an impediment there. And let's re-emphasise this: there is evidence of extremely serious criminal actions there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why we should not dismiss…, in reply to HORansome,

    Aye. I think it’s true that when we generally disparage theories about conspiracies, it does make it easier for some people to successfully conspire.

    The most notable recent example has been the way John Key has consistently referred to Nicky Hager: as variously, "a conspiracy theorist", "a left wing conspiracy theorist" and even "a screaming left wing conspiracy theorist".

    The line was being deployed preemptively, before Dirty Politics was even published. And it was quite effective. The number of people who can't perceive a difference between Hager and Ian Wishart is quite remarkable.

    In the terms of your argument, of course, Hager is a conspiracy theorist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

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