Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Doing over the witness

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  • izogi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    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.

    How does the jurisdiction work where Cathy Odgers is concerned, given that she (as I understand) spends much of her live in Hong Kong, and presumably carried out many of the alleged actions from there? Is that likely to complicate any investigations?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    “Just because we like the end result we shouldn’t excuse the original crime.”

    Dylan this is stoopid. Exposing corrupt practice of government is in the public interest, its not something to ‘like’ in a gossipy vicarious way. You seem to be bending over backwards to be balanced but seem to have lost the bigger picture in the process.

    This seems to be part of the the Key Party’s dual attack strategy, feed and support sympathetic journalists and punish and denigrate unsympathetic ones (teapot, RNZ etc) carrot and stick for the fourth estate.

    State thought police or crushed Collins attack poodles?

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, 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.

    Plus, even if it could somehow be considered reasonable to search Nicky Hager's home and take his stuff, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that with $1.6 billion per year, the Police should be able to do two things at the same time. It'd be nice to see a sign or two that Police actually are doing two things when it comes to this general collection of happenings.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Stephen Doyle,

    Are we really heading down the one party state line?

    Considering that the supposed main party of opposition has long since crossed the event horizon of its own navel, it seems effectively so.

    In other words, because they can.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    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 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Six weeks, actually, with an election intervening.

    That seems like a fairly long time to me? I'm saying it hardly seems likely that there's a taskforce on this. I expect it's one case among a number for a couple of detectives or something.

    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.

    I'm not pretending that - I don't think we really know. It's not a situation that comes up often.

    I think that if we knew a non-journalist had, for some reason, received a lot of stolen data from a criminal hacker then it wouldn't be surprising to see the same action taken, would it? Search warrants are often issued to collect evidence from material witnesses.

    I don't think that the law prevents the police from considering Hager a witness. It seems that they have made some consideration of his rights and appeal by sealing the seized items until a court can rule. Although I'm not sure if that was on their initiative, or because of actions taken by Hager's lawyers.

    I have no idea how long it should take to serve such a search warrant - I've never been party to one.

    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.

    I don't disagree, but I'm not sure that there's a simple answer to this? Should any self-professed journalist (even if a court may have ruled that they are not considered such for the purposes of law) be somehow immune to police actions that any of the rest of us wouldn't be?

    If I had been sent the contents of Slater's computer and the police were aware of that I'm not sure I'd be surprised to see the same thing happen to me.

    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?

    My position is two fold:
    1) I think it's ridiculous to suggest that the theft of Slater's documents isn't worthy of investigation (either on it's face, or because the Dirty Politics allegations haven't been) -- Although that's clearly an argument you've made

    2) I'm not convinced that journalists are entirely off limits to a police investigation, provided proper process is followed.

    There are obviously fair questions to be raised about the validity or method of the search (was it a fishing expedition? was the length and extent of the search unreasonable) but I'm certainly not convinced it's outright unacceptable.

    And yes of course there is some chilling effect, but I don't know where the balance for that should lie.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
    ― George Orwell

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    However, following your line of reasoning, if certain police actions do not compromise the execution of others, then they are theoretically capable of investigating every complaint, with no budget constraints. What appears to have happened, in reality, is that they have chosen to send FIVE officers to Nicky's house as their chosen priority.

    There are obviously practical limits. But I don't think we're in any position, from hundreds of kilometres away with almost literally no information at all, to be making assertions about what the police should and should not be focusing on, or how they should be doing it.

    As for the five officers at the scene - I suspect that's probably about standard for a search of that sort. Likely only one or two were actually working on the Rawshark case, the others are probably evidence collection specialists or similar. Searches are what they do.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Russell Brown,

    First swallow then. I'll need to see more before I'm convinced that it's summer. Pardon my cynicism (don't), but Clark and Goff didn't seem to be particularly ardent advocates of freedom or privacy in their time.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to william blake,

    Dylan this is stoopid. Exposing corrupt practice of government is in the public interest, its not something to ‘like’ in a gossipy vicarious way. You seem to be bending over backwards to be balanced but seem to have lost the bigger picture in the process.

    I would absolutely decry any attempt to criminalise Hager for his writing. But that is not what's being investigated.

    There's clearly no way that Rawshark (or Whaledump, or whatever) knew that he was acting in the public interest when he targeted Slater's communications. That it turned out to be that later is interesting, but ultimately the crime that the police are investigating is a crime regardless of the public interest in the content involved.

    Also this is not a case of whistleblowing either - that's usually applied to someone with privileged access to information who then breaks confidence for the public interest. If we start ignoring criminal actions that somehow can be seen after the face to have been in the public interest, what sort of precedent would that set?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    the others are probably evidence collection specialists or similar. Searches are what they do

    nah, that's spies .

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Kracklite,

    One swallow doesn’t make a commitment, as they say.

    (Specifically, Tim Brooke-Taylor, on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Doyle, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    "I would absolutely decry any attempt to criminalise Hager for his writing. But that is not what’s being investigated."

    How can we be sure? Given this Govts history with this stuff, I would think it's highly likely they'll be angling for a conviction.

    Stillwater • Since Nov 2011 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
    ― George Orwell

    +1

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    But I don’t think we’re in any position, from hundreds of kilometres away with almost literally no information at all, to be making assertions about what the police should and should not be focusing on, or how they should be doing it.

    There’s clearly no way that Rawshark (or Whaledump, or whatever) knew that he was acting in the public interest when he targeted Slater’s communications.

    So the police are to be given the full benefit of the doubt while the hacker(s) receive none. This is exactly the kind of beardstroking apologist nonsense that blighted mainstream media coverage of the Urewera raids and their dismal aftermath.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    How can we be sure? Given this Govts history with this stuff, I would think it's highly likely they'll be angling for a conviction.

    Against who? The police have said they are not investing Hager in relation to any crime, no one has suggested he'll face any charges (I think someone argued that "receiving stolen goods" may count) - but so far as I can see Hager faces no criminal sanction for his writing.

    The hacker, on the other hand, definitively broke the law and clearly knew he was doing it. The police will investigate as they should and if they identify him (which I highly doubt) then he'll face charges as you'd expect.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I'm not sure that anyone has actually said that Nicky should be immune to police action in respect of the complaint from Cameron Slater. You've twice said that is the case but I think that the argument throughout the thread is over the prioritising of Nicky Hager for a house search and the scale (perhaps) of the team. It's entirely reasonable to investigate Nicky with respect to the theft accusation but we see no action, thus far, on other equally (more?) serious allegations. And that smells funny to me.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    So the police are to be given the full benefit of the doubt while the hacker(s) receive none. This is exactly the kind of beardstroking apologist nonsense that blighted mainstream media coverage of the Urewera raids and their dismal aftermath.

    What doubt is there for the hacker(s) to benefit from? I suppose they could have had information that would lead them to believe there was public interest information to be had, but that seems unlikely.

    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. So far as I'm aware the case hasn't been allocated a nifty sounding operation name, and I doubt there's a room full of officers working the case 24/7... Someone's computer security was breached, a lot of private communications between them and other were taken and distributed. That seems pretty clearly worthy of police investigation.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    even if a court may have ruled that they are not considered such for the purposes of law

    If you are referring to recent case where the author of a biography was not considered a journalist and applying that to Hager then I suspect you are stretching the court's ruling beyond its intent. Certainly the case for Hager being a journalist is at the very least arguable in court if not a slam dunk.

    It strikes me that you are dismissing his role as a journalist to try and make your arguments stronger whereas they have no relevance to your arguments.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    How does the jurisdiction work where Cathy Odgers is concerned, given that she (as I understand) spends much of her live in Hong Kong, and presumably carried out many of the alleged actions from there?

    Ask Kim Dot Com how those jurisdiction issues work ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I’m not convinced that journalists are entirely off limits to a police investigation, provided proper process is followed.

    I notice you also said earlier that being a journalist doesn’t necessarily prevent police from a search. Maybe so, if the journalist is actually thought to be responsible for criminal acts, but police have already identified Nicky Hager as a witness, not a suspect.

    S68 of the s68(1) of the Evidence Act seems fairly clear to me when it states:

    neither the journalist nor his or her employer is compellable in a civil or criminal proceeding to answer any question or produce any document that would disclose the identity of the informant or enable that identity to be discovered

    So, what on earth are they actually looking for if not evidence of the identity of the informant?

    Maybe a judge has already ruled for police, under s68(2), that (1) doesn’t apply due to a lack of public interest in what Hager published, in which case I expect to see evidence of this order that so far doesn’t seem to have surfaced.

    Or maybe police believe that he isn’t a ‘journalist’ and hope to successfully argue this in court. The same act defines ‘journalist’ as anyone who in the normal course of their work expects information given to them to be published in a ‘news medium’, which is in turn defined as a medium for the dissemination of news and observations on news. Maybe there are legal precedents to go on, though. Even if this, however, the statement you made above about how it should be okay for journalists to be subject to this stuff doesn’t seem relevant.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    There’s clearly no way that Rawshark (or Whaledump, or whatever) knew that he was acting in the public interest when he targeted Slater’s communications.

    That is simply not true. There have been rumours going around that WO has had special access to OIAs and information that he should not have had access to for ages. There was a very high chance that records such as those that were in fact found would be on his computers.

    The attack on his computers was illegal. But I strongly suspect that the person made the attack with the intention of exposing exactly what was exposed, that is the crime was commited for the public good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I'm not sure that anyone has actually said that Nicky should be immune to police action in respect of the complaint from Cameron Slater.

    I think that's the bulk of the criticism in relation to this whole thing. Hager is a journalist, so the police searching and seizing his computers was wrong. Basically.

    we see no action, thus far, on other equally (more?) serious allegations. And that smells funny to me.

    Do we know that no action is being taken or will be taken?

    The theft of Slater's data is a very obvious crime. There's really no scope for opinion or argument about whether it actually constituted a crime - it definitely was.

    The allegations in Hager's book on the other hand seem, to me at least, to be much more complex. There are questions about what actions are criminal, who should be investigating, what the proper process would be... They seem less black and white. I certainly thing some are deserving of more investigation, but I can also see they less straight forward and may take longer - but I certainly hope to see things happening in time.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, 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.

    The issue you’re avoiding is the possibility that the police were acting as it turned out they did in the Urewera raids – i.e. according to a selective political agenda. At the time, even Martyn Bradbury initially played down that possibility while talking up the "terror threat".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to linger,

    Even less than a spit.

    Ewww.

    Sorry.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

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