Firearm purchase warning

The Police have given what are now Newshub staff (from Story on what was TV3) a warning over the forgery involved in illegally purchasing a firearm to demonstrate how it could be done.

This is about when Heather du Plessis Allen and Story forged a police signature to obtain approval to purchase a firearm.

And Newshub have apologised for what they did.

I think this is a reasonable result, as long as it’s seen as a warning to journalists not to break the law in doing stories or prosecutions could eventuate next time.

The police statement from Superintendent Richard Chambers – District Commander, Auckland City District:

Outcome of investigation into TV3/MediaWorks staff

Police in Auckland City District have concluded the investigation into the actions of some TV3/MediaWorks staff involved in the purchase of a firearm for a television report broadcast in October 2015.

Police became involved as a result of those staff seeking to surrender a firearm that had been illegally purchased from a licensed Auckland firearms dealer.

The Police investigation focussed on the actions of staff members in the creation of a forged document and the use of the document to obtain a firearm.

Having completed a thorough investigation, an independent review of the case has been undertaken by a Detective Superintendent.

Police have now issued formal warnings to three TV3/MediaWorks staff.

In reaching this decision, the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines were considered, together with independent legal advice.

Police are satisfied that in this instance, there is no evidence that the acquisition of the firearm was for a sinister purpose, a factor which was taken into consideration in reaching this decision.

Police is aware of some commentary suggesting that the television report was in the public interest and should not have been investigated.  Police would like to make it clear that for any investigation, public interest considerations are applied at the conclusion of an investigation and in accordance with the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines, when prosecution is being considered. The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.  The circumstances of individual cases are routinely assessed to ensure that an appropriate investigation is initiated.

We would also like to be clear that the freedom of journalists to report on any matter is fully accepted without question by Police. The law, however, applies equally to everyone, including members of the media and Police do not accept that it is appropriate to commit a criminal offence purely to publicise the ease with which something can be done.

The outcome of the investigation has been communicated to the individuals involved and to TV3/MediaWorks, which brings this matter to a conclusion.

END

There will be no further Police comment or interviews on this matter.

Media note: A formal warning does not result in a criminal conviction against an individual. However a record of the warning is held by Police and may be used to determine eligibility for any subsequent warnings, and may also be presented in court during any future court proceedings.

So no prosecution or conviction but a warning on their records. And a warning to other journalists and media organisations.

And Newshub have apologised in this report:

MediaWorks warned over Story’s gun item

Police have decided not to lay charges over an item on TV3’s Story programme last year in which a firearm was purchased online.

A number of MediaWorks staff have been warned, and the Story team has apologised to Gun City, the store at the centre of the item, and its owner David Tipple.

“The intention behind the story was to put a spotlight on an issue rather than any one individual business,” a MediaWorks spokesperson says in a statement.

“Story regrets any impact that may have inadvertently been caused to Mr Tipple as a result of the story.”

Superintendent Richard Chambers says there is no evidence to suggest obtaining the firearm was for “a sinister purpose”.

He says police are aware of suggestions the television item was “in the public interest” and shouldn’t have been investigated.

“The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

“Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.”

Following the item, which aired in October, police were quick to close the highlighted loophole.

That there was no malicious or ”sinister’ intent will have helped kept this at a warning level.

Leave a comment

20 Comments

  1. I will be interested in the extent and nature of comments on this matter from Media organisations. My bet is that not one of the disciplinary organisations for media will acknowledge the significance of the wrongdoing of the media persons concerned, and say their error has been noted for the record. In my view, the priviliges claimed by the 4th Estate have once again been eroded and their claims to privilege because they defend democratic ideals sounds really hollow. The media deserve no privilges for acces to information because they have demonstrated their adherence to the idea od do what I say, not what i do!!

    Reply
  2. Oliver

     /  2nd March 2016

    What’s concerning is the amount of military style A class weapons being imported into this country. How can the government say they are taking security seriously when they turn a blind eye to this phenomenon. What are they waiting for? a mass shooting. We need to address this before it’s too late.

    Reply
    • Robby

       /  2nd March 2016

      Don’t go getting too excited Oliver. Why don’t you try importing one of these yourself, without the appropriate permits & checks…. 😉

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  3rd March 2016

        Well the Owner of gun city has previously been in prison for illegally importing fire arms. And refusing to stop for police. So I think you’re right I have no chance of being able to import weapons seeing I don’t have a criminal record.

        Reply
  3. Robby

     /  2nd March 2016

    A good result for everyone really. Finally the police are learning to use their discretion wisely

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  2nd March 2016

    It sounds like the dealer will be taking a private prosecution.

    Reply
    • Brown

       /  2nd March 2016

      Good on him. This was a deliberate fraud to obtain a restricted item illegally. The police, as usual, ignore serious offending while pissing off nearly every motorist they encounter doing something trivial and harmless. Useless.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  3rd March 2016

        Speeding, drunk driving and dangerous driving aren’t trivial and harmless; don’t do them and the police won’t fine you. Do, and they will.

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  2nd March 2016

      A gun shop owner says he is “80 per cent certain” he will pursue a private criminal prosecution against Heather du Plessis-Allan, after police decided to drop gun charges against the journalist.

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/77458239/police-decide-not-to-pursue-charges-over-heather-du-plessisallan-gun-story

      That’s an odd way to put it. Wonder why he’s only 80% certain.

      Reply
      • Robby

         /  2nd March 2016

        Probably because it is entirely possible that the whole transaction was conducted legally. Think about it for a minute. The firearms licence number was valid. So how do you know that the holder of that numbered licence wasn’t present at the address when Heather DPA opened the parcel, and was standing out of camera view? People who don’t have a firearms licence are allowed to handle them under the supervision of someone who does. Did HDPA load the gun?? And wasn’t the whole idea suggested to 3news by Greg O’Connor? Just think for a minute people……

        Reply
        • Robby

           /  3rd March 2016

          Get a clue people. Do you really think that what you saw on TV was the entire truth. TV3 have several very competent and experienced lawyers on salary who vet EVERYTHING before it is broadcast. Anyone who thought that the outcome of this would result in a journalist being prosecuted, is either very naive, or retarded.

          Reply
          • kittycatkin

             /  3rd March 2016

            I doubt it-why were the police involved then ? Forgery is always illegal.I’d want the hide of any lawyer who told me that forging a police signature was all right.

            Reply
    • Oliver

       /  2nd March 2016

      Well he would know all about breaking the law and being prosecuted wouldn’t he.

      Reply
    • Klik Bate

       /  2nd March 2016

      It will NEVER happen.

      Reply
  5. Patzcuaro

     /  3rd March 2016

    It surprised me at the time that you able to buy a firearm and then have it couriered to you. I think if you can’t pick the firearm up in person from the retailer the next best thing is to have it sent to your nearest police station for collection.

    It seems to me a sensible outcome as the reporter was pushing the boundaries but little would be gained by a prosecution. I’m sure there is a better use for the money in both the justice and police budgets.

    The defences forces have shown us recently how easy it is to waste money in the courts.

    I would have thought that the gun shop owner would be beat advised to let sleeping dogs lie given his somewhat dubious past.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd March 2016

      The gunshop owner rightly feels he was set up, frauded and slandered by HDPA and TV3 for complying with the law. His lawyer will be weighing up the options for redress.

      Reply
      • Grumpy

         /  3rd March 2016

        ….and Mr Tipple will have a VERY good lawyer…..
        He will not back down on this.

        Reply
        • Nelly Smickers

           /  3rd March 2016

          Pretty sure we use the same firm of solicitors…..

          Dewey, Screwem & Howe.

          😀

          Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  3rd March 2016

        I guess he will have to weigh the commercial pro & cons of proceeding with what will he actually achieve.

        Reply

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