Unanswered questions over Hager case

The Police gave Nicky Hager a comprehensive apology and a substantial payout after they admitted overstepping procedures and breaking the law in their investigation of Hager when they tried to find out who the hacker ‘Rawshark’ was who supplied Hager with data from Cameron Slater and his Whale oil website.

There are unanswered questions about whether ‘Rawshark’ was a sole operator or a group, whether he/she/they were hacking from the outside or whether it was an inside job (whistleblower). The police failed to find any of this out, and Hager himself claims not to know.

The police made it clear that Hager was investigated as a witness and “was not a suspect of any offending” (which made their botching of the investigation substantially more troubling).

There is a big unanswered question over why the police went to such great lengths when they have made it clear that Hager was investigated as a witness and not as a possible offender – in contrast to their investigation of another acase where Slater tried to have The Standard hacked.

Tim Watkins goes over the case and in particular asks this in More questions from the Nicky Hager case.

Slater had reported the hack to police and quite properly, the police began investigating. However, they began investigating with such vigour they broke the law and were not honest with the courts. It’s a remarkable series of events that appears to go beyond ineptitude, to something more deliberate.

In a country where victims of burglary often complain about the slow response from police and around the time that the national burglary resolution rate (2015) was a record low 9.3 per cent, it’s curious that police would expend such resources on this computer.

But most notably there were other dodgy dealings with computers in the news around the same time, as well. Dirty Politics itself revealed that Slater and National Party staffer and others had been rooting around in the back-end of the Labour Party website. Hager had alleged that one of those who had been in the site was a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office. While Police admitted in their statement yesterday that Hager “was not a suspect of any offending”, there were questions being asked at the time about the legality of that behaviour. Yet nothing so rigorous was undertaken.

Also around the same time, the victim of Rawshark’s hack – Cameraon Slater – was himself commissioning Ben Rachinger to hack The Standard website to establish whether Labour MPs and staff were anonymously writing for the Labour-aligned blog. Rachinger turned whistle blower, leading to a story by me and Lisa Owen that saw Slater finally charged with attempting to procure a hack. He admitted guilt and received diversion.

Slater had to admit guilt to qualify for diversion, but he later suggested on Whale oil that this wasn’t sincere – if so that would make it misleading the court.

I know from my work on that story and my repeated calls to police how slow they were to act on Slater’s actions.

Quite reasonably, police have pointed out that Rawshark’s actual hack (with the potential for a seven year prison sentence) was a worse offence than Slater’s attempted and failed hack (with a maximum sentence of two and a half years).

But when you consider such extensive efforts on one side (where there was serious public interest in the behaviour of people in and around government) and such reluctance to investigate on the other (where, while embarrassing, the ‘crime’ of writing anonymous blog posts was much the lesser justification for a hack), it does raise questions.

The biggest being: Why?

The next question is who: Who made the decisions to deceive the court and the third parties? Who made the decision to conduct the raid in such a way that breached his rights to journalistic privilege? Who breached the Bill of Rights by their approaches to third parties?

Who in the police was responsible, culpable, is an important question.

The dark shadow hanging over all this is political. The police investigation was into a journalist who had made serious allegations against the sitting government of the day. Those are the times when police have to be at their scrupulous best, their most transparent and their most even-handed. Yet they were not.

If the police don’t clear this up they leave a dark political shadow hanging.

At the very least the public needs clear assurances from Police bosses and the Police Ministers around that time – Anne Tolley and Michael Woodhouse – that the politics at play did not influence the investigation. Without honest and frank interviews addressing these questions, how can the public’s trust in police not be effected.

Police officials have not fully discharged their duty yet.

I agree. Perhaps the media can get some honest and frank answers from Tolley and Woodhouse.

And the police need to front up on this. Unless they do that serious questions will remain.

28 Comments

  1. Trevors_Elbow

     /  June 14, 2018

    Siggghhhhhh….

    Those in possesion of stolen data continue to defend themselves by blaming others for wrong doing. because ‘Public Interest’…. well ok I can see that angle though it was a nasty, unbalanced piece of work by Hager in my opinion

    It seems certain the Police over stepped and are taking a hit for their illegal behaviour.

    But certain journo’s with a left leaning viewpoint are not being entirely ethical with their support of a targeted hack.

    Slater got his just desserts…. but my, oh my I can only imagine the howls if a hit job of this magnitude had been executed on the left not by the left.

    And a question for Mr Watkins – how deep are you digging in to a political party that supplied minors with alcohol, left them unattended and then tried to cover up alleged sexual assaults at one of their party youth camps??

    Not too deep, because…. LABOUR. But what about the ‘Public Interest’??? the Labour Review seems to be taking an awful long time and doubtless any report will be released when the miracle baby of St’s Jacinda and washisname is delivered into the world…

    Seems Labour don’t get subjected to in depth journalism because… well….. ummmm… they are on the side of good….. YEAH RIGHT!

    • The truth tends to have a liberal bias, hence why “loony lefties” in journalism get payouts, plaudits etc, and the right gets….. Mike Hosking.

      • Zedd

         /  June 14, 2018

        I heard some ZB regulars are saying “Hosking for Natl Leader” or even ‘their next PM’ (in about 8 years perhaps ?).
        Everytime I hear him.. it sounds like ‘this has been; a party political broadcast on behalf of the Natl Party’ 😀

        • Jay3

           /  June 14, 2018

          Yes, very much like Lizzy Marvelly, Rachel Stewart, Simon Wilson and that Rudman guy cheerleading for the Labour Party in the Herald.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  June 14, 2018

        The left are not strangers to ‘alternative facts’ Shane. The fact they tend to get glossed over a lot more by compliant media doesn’t mean they do not exist.

        • Griff

           /  June 14, 2018

          The left are not strangers to ‘alternative facts’ Shane. The fact they tend ……

          A fact is a statement backed by evidence .
          You offer no evidence
          Because you can not your “fact” is merely your opinion.
          Not even knowing what is fact is why you are a sucker for alternative facts AKA bullshite.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  June 14, 2018

            You offer only blather and no sense of self awareness as you pompously pontificate your “facts” Griff.
            To say the left don’t lie is patently absurd – of course they do. As do the right.
            It is intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise.

          • Griff

             /  June 14, 2018

            Gee duck your reply has nothing at all to do with the statement about the media I attacked as not factual.
            Straw man .
            No one said the left does not lie.

            Your comments are still illogical garbage no matter how many ad homenims you make in reply my simple little friend.

            As to intellectually honesty .
            You would need to actually develop an intellect first.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  June 14, 2018

              Saying “The fact that” is in line with a manner of speech rather than a black and white irrefutable statement. Of course what I said is opinion – it reads that way, notwithstanding the words. Keep your nit-picking semantic mutterings to yourself as it adds nothing to the discussion.

            • Gezza

               /  June 14, 2018

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 14, 2018

      Normal people would think the public interest was served by being able to identify and prosecute hackers. Apparently the justice system doesn’t believe that.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  June 14, 2018

      Just deserts, surely, not desserts. He was given what he deserved, not a sweet course at the end of a meal.

      • Gezza

         /  June 14, 2018

        “Just deserts. The phrase is the last refuge of an obsolete meaning of desert—namely, something that is deserved or merited. But because most modern English speakers are unfamiliar with that old sense of desert, the phrase is often understandably written just desserts.”

        You’re right. I never knew that.

  2. Blazer

     /  June 14, 2018

    still trying to squeeze some juice out of a bone dry intern orange.
    The politically motivated witch hunt Hager endured is an indictment on the new depths plumbed by the last administration.That P.M and his black ops squad in constant contact with disreputable ,toxic individuals.

    • alloytoo

       /  June 14, 2018

      @Blazer : That P.M and his black ops squad in constant contact with disreputable ,toxic individuals.

      The PM had a hot line to you? Surely not. Unless you mean the current PM and then you made a typo: “Her”

    • High Flying Duck

       /  June 14, 2018

      If the Government had no part in the police deciding not to prosecute Helen for her painting fraud, and in releasing a statement on the Gayford rumours, then they most likely also had no influence on the Hager case.

      • Blazer

         /  June 14, 2018

        ‘painting fraud’….fraud in the mind of people wo don’t meet the ‘reasonable people’…standard.
        We know Honky Tonks used to keep in contact with W.O ,even apologised to him,a very rare event.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  June 14, 2018

          We also know Hager only outed people he wanted to attack, and let the rest off with a “warning” to do better or else…

          • Blazer

             /  June 14, 2018

            lets see your evidence…’Corngate’ would suggest you are…wrong.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  June 14, 2018

              N Hger on Q&A:

              “If you see a name of a journalist in the book, they are the ones I don’t think have done anything wrong, they’re just incidental to the story. Every journalist who had been taking stories in dodgy ways from David Farrar, one of the bloggers, or Cameron Slater or from the prime minister’s office, I actually left their names out. I decided not to do the journalists basically.”

              “The people I’m talking about are in the press gallery, senior journalists. Basically I didn’t want to humiliate them, I wanted to give them room to think again and do it differently. That was the reason. Because we’re a small country and there are only going to be the same senior journalists the year after and the year after that, so let them change their minds on it.”

            • Trevors_Elbow

               /  June 14, 2018

              Jeezus your blind and bigoted….. HFD has pointed out Hager’s own words…. which read like a typical left wing totalitarian ‘guidance’ and bordered on blackmail…

              But nothing to see here… Mooove on…

            • Blazer

               /  June 14, 2018

              thanks HFD…it would seem Hager is not so vindictive as to try and crucify excitable…journo’s.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  June 14, 2018

              No – only he is only interested in the people he needs to destroy to meet his narrative.
              Journalists try to get all sides of a story before publishing – Hager used email fragments which he “edited” and then painted a narrative around.
              That said, the police were completely out of bounds in this. Thinking the guy is a dickhead doesn’t absolve the police overreach. Just as thinking Slater is a dickhead doesn’t absolve Hager or “rawshark” from criticism over rank hypocrisy or the despicable invasion of privacy.

  3. Gezza

     /  June 14, 2018

    I think there’s absolutely no doubt that our police are politicallly steered by whichever government is in power, & have always been.

    • Zedd

       /  June 14, 2018

      I agree, but there could well be some ‘push back’ from Police; eg. It was announced in the media; that they strongly opposed the Greens med-use bill provision, of allowing terminally ill people or carers to ‘home grow’ to reduce costs & relieve their suffering.

      It goes against their ‘Lets wipe out all cannabis cultivation.. in all forms’ approach, to create a drought (& make synthetics more available.. Its less harmful apparently ??) 😦

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 14, 2018

      Agreed. The police at upper levels are intensely political.

  4. JJ

     /  June 14, 2018

    I think when Blomfield V Slater starts we might see more dumping of files.

    Blomfield uses Geiringer for a reason – the Hagar connection

    • I would be surprised if anything like that happens. I think the discovery process and court rulings to date give a good indication of where things are heading.

      Slater and associates have a substantial record of dumping stuff late into proceedings – and the posts that have been alleged to be defamatory were in a large part based on private information (a hard drive) that was supplied to Slater (alleged to be stolen).

      So there’s a lot of irony in this case related to Hager’s.

      Blomfield probably uses Geiringer for a reason – he’s a lawyer, and one with a good knowledge of things associated with Slater. And with some success with Hager. So he looks like a smart choice.

      Slater has used Nottingham in this, a non-lawyer with a hopeless record of incompetence in court over the last few years, and with associations with people like Spring who are complicit in the arrack campaign against Blomfield (including on YourNZ in contravention of court agreements and a restraining order).

      I have no idea how Blomfield v Slater will work out. There is another judgment in the long running process now online that says:

      [1] Mr Blomfield sues Mr Slater in defamation in relation to 13 publications posted
      over a period of approximately one month on the website Whaleoil.co.nz. The trial is
      currently scheduled to heard before a jury on 8 October 2018, and has been allocated
      six weeks.

      [13] I am influenced in exercising my discretion by the fact that I have just
      concluded a hearing of two days’ duration dealing with several interlocutory
      applications that needed to be determined before the trial. It took considerable time
      for me to understand and become familiar with the material on which the parties rely.
      I have no doubt that it will be much more difficult for a jury to undertake that task.
      The pleadings are voluminous. On my count Mr Blomfield has pleaded a total of 138
      separate but overlapping imputations, each of which will need to be considered.
      Defences of truth and honest opinion are advanced. My experience with the case
      persuades me that it is of such factual and legal complexity that it would be asking too
      much of a jury to spend six weeks of their time considering it.

      [14] The position is not made easier by the fact that Mr Slater is representing
      himself. Mr Slater is undoubtedly a seasoned litigant with considerable experience in
      cases of this type. It is clear from the current state of his pleadings, however, that he
      is not familiar with the technical requirements of claims based in defamation.

      https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/pdf/jdo/c0/alfresco/service/api/node/content/workspace/SpacesStore/e911f45b-5ccd-4d56-956f-2599afc1138d/e911f45b-5ccd-4d56-956f-2599afc1138d.pdf

      Especially with a complex case like this an experienced lawyer like Geiringer versus Slater acting for himself looks like a mismatch. I doubt that it will be Blomfield trying to dump files into the case late in the process.