Police apologise to Hager and pay ‘substantial’ damages

The police have apologised to Nicky Hager for an unlawful search and investigation trying to find the source for ‘Dirty Politics. They have also paid ‘substantial’ damages but the actual amount is confidential.

I have always condemned the hacking of communications data of Cameron Slater and Whale Oil (and also condemned Slater’s attempt to solicit the hack of The Standard), but that’s another matter.

The police have a duty to follow legal procedures in investigating, and they obviously stepped well over an acceptable line here.

Press release from Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer:


Police apologise to Nicky Hager

In a settlement with far-reaching implications, the New Zealand Police have apologised to Nicky Hager for multiple breaches of his rights arising from their 2014 investigation into Dirty Politics.

Nicky Hager’s home was raided by Police in October 2014. The raid was part of an investigation into the source of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. In 2015, the High Court ruled that the warrant that was used for the raid was “fundamentally unlawful”. However, many more alleged breaches of Mr Hager’s rights were left to be resolved at a later hearing.

In today’s settlement, Police have accepted that they did not have reasonable grounds for the search, that they attempted to breach Mr Hager’s journalistic privilege in multiple ways, and that they unlawfully obtained his private information from third parties including his bank. [The full Police statement is included below.]

“This is a very important agreement,” said Mr Hager. “The Police have admitted that many things they did in their investigation and search were unlawful. This sends a vital message that people can share important information with journalists with confidence that their identities will be protected. The Police have apologised for threatening that confidentiality and trust.”

As part of the settlement Mr Hager is to receive substantial damages and a substantial contribution to his legal costs. Mr Hager said “Under the agreement, I am not allowed to name the figure. However, it gives the strongest possible indication that Police accept the harm they caused and are much less likely to treat a journalist this way again. The money will help support important work in years to coming.”

During a 10-hour search of his home in 2014, Mr Hager claimed journalistic source protection privilege. He later learned that Police officers breached express promises made during the search and photographed privileged documents to use in their investigation. Police also sought to circumvent Mr Hager’s rights to source protection by obtaining his private information from third parties such as Air New Zealand, Qantas, PayPal, Customs, WestPac, Vodafone, and Two Degrees. Luckily, none of this succeeded in exposing any sources.

“This has been a long fight, but we stuck at it because we believe what we were fighting for was important,” Mr Hager said. “I want to thank my legal team and all of the people around New Zealand who have cared about the case and supported it over the last three and a half years”.


Full text of Police acknowledgement and apology

  1. Mr Nicky Hager has instituted High Court claims against the Crown resulting from:
    1.1 the search of his property at Wellington on 2 October 2014 after publication of his book, Dirty Politics, and;
    1.2 information requests and production orders obtained in respect of Mr Hager’s information held by various agencies.
  2. As part of the settlement of Mr Hager’s claims, the New Zealand Police wish to acknowledge the following breaches of Mr Hager’s rights and to apologise for them.
  3. In September 2014, Police sought and obtained 10 months of Mr Hager’s banking transactions. This was done with an informal information request and without a production order. Police acknowledge that Mr Hager had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to that information. The Supreme Court have recently provided clarification on when a production order needs to be applied for. In light of that judgment, Police accept that they needed to obtain a production order in order to obtain Mr Hager’s banking information.
  4. At the end of September 2014, Police applied for and obtained a search warrant to search Mr Hager’s home. Mr Hager was not a suspect of any offending.
  5. Police failed to mention in their application for the search warrant that they sought information to identify one of Mr Hager’s confidential sources and failed to mention that Mr Hager was a journalist who could claim journalistic privilege. The High Court has found that in this regard Police failed to discharge their duty of candour and the warrant was unlawful. The High Court also expressed concern that Police lacked reasonable grounds to obtain a warrant. Police accept the High Court’s preliminary assessment.
  6. Police also now accept and acknowledge that in certain respects the search warrant was overly broad and should have contained conditions to address concerns raised to protect journalistic privilege.
  7. Police searched Mr Hager’s home for almost an hour before Mr Hager claimed journalistic privilege over his material at the time of the search of his home. Police accept the High Court’s position that they needed to give Mr Hager a positive chance to claim that privilege before commencing the search.
  8. During the search, Police took a photograph of a printed copy of an email exchange between Mr Hager and another person and used it to conduct enquiries. Police also photographed documents containing login information for web accounts and a cloud storage facility and tried to use that information to access those websites. Police also took copies of information relating to a cell phone and used that information to obtain production orders from phone companies. Police acknowledge that these were breaches of Mr Hager’s legal right to protect his sources and should not have occurred.
  9. Police acknowledge that lawyers for Mr Hager wrote to their lawyers on 7 October 2014 and told Police that Mr Hager also had claims of privilege over information relating to his private communications, or his other private documents, held by third parties.
  10. After the search, Police continued the investigation by seeking and obtaining Mr Hager’s private information from various third parties including Air New Zealand, Paypal, NZ Customs, and Jetstar. When Police used production orders, they should have and failed to disclose Mr Hager is a journalist who is entitled to claim privilege. They also failed to mention that Mr Hager had claimed privilege during the search on 2 October, or what his lawyers had said in their 7 October letter. These were breaches of their duty of candour in each instance.
  11. Police acknowledge that Mr Hager had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to information that could be used to identify his confidential sources. Police also acknowledge that there are legal protections in relation to such information that can only be waived by a High Court Judge. As such, it was not appropriate for the Police to seek such information from third parties without a suitable court order.
  12. In making some information requests, Police said that they suspected Mr Hager of criminal behaviour including fraud. Police accept that they had no basis for such allegations.
  13. Police acknowledge that in the respects outlined above they breached Mr Hager’s right under ss 14 and 21 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
  14. Police acknowledge that the search of Mr Hager’s property caused distress to him and his family and threatened his ability (and that of the wider media) to access information from confidential informants.
  15. Police apologise unreservedly for these breaches of his rights and have agreed to pay Mr Hager damages and his legal costs.
Leave a comment

17 Comments

  1. Loki

     /  June 12, 2018

    Spare a thought for the poor wretched souls who are being forced to comfort Slater through this new magnificent reminder that he got completely owned by the left.

    Reply
    • Note also how well Hager did with Geiringer helping him. Slater will be up against him in October.

      Reply
      • Loki

         /  June 12, 2018

        I read the entire ruling on the last Blomfield skirmish.
        Not looking good for our hero.
        He should have just given up the people who put him up to it.
        Years later, he is reduced to begging his readers for money and is looking like he is going to end up living offshore to avoid it when he loses.
        And yes. Hagers lawyer will make ground burley of him.
        No mate of Winstons to help on this trial.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  June 12, 2018

          never fear his squeeze SB..maintains W.O is a thriving profitable…biz. 😉

          Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  June 12, 2018

    Hager deserved this apology & damages. The police were complete,y out of order & out control.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  June 12, 2018

      *completely.
      He got a lot time in the item about it on 1ewes.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  June 12, 2018

      Don’t know why downticked. I’m not a rah-rah fan of Hager but you only have to read the Police apology to see the extent to which our Pokice acted like the bloody Stasi over this. While noting the denials it’s impossible for any reasonable person to not consider there was a political imperative in all this.

      Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  June 12, 2018

    Why did the police insist the amounts paid must remain confidential?

    Reply
  4. Probably a common sentiment.

    Reply
  5. Patzcuaro

     /  June 13, 2018
    Reply
  6. Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s