Thompson and Clark spied for Government departments

There’s disturbing details in the report of the investigation into spying for Government departments by Thompson and Clark. Targets have included Christchurch earthquake victims, political parties (Greens and Mana) and activist groups including Greenpeace.

RNZ:  Thompson and Clark spied on earthquake victims, inquiry finds

Multiple government departments have breached the State Services code of conduct according to an investigation into 131 departments and their use of external security consultants.

The findings of the investigation, lead by Doug Martin and Simon Mount QC, were released today.

Security company Thompson and Clark has been barred from doing any more work for the government after the investigation by the State Services Commission found it used an unlicensed private investigator and produced electronic recordings of closed meetings without the consent or knowledge of attendees.

From 13 March 2014, Thompson and Clark, working on behalf of Southern Response, the government’s insurance agency working for claimants of the Canterbury earthquakes, attended and recorded several closed meetings of insurance claimants.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has complained to the police about the recording of meetings and has lodged a formal complaint with the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority in regard to using an unlicensed private investigator.

He has also recommended Thompson and Clark be removed from the government’s procurement panel, which the chief executive of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment has done.

Southern Response had also had a complaint laid to the police against it.

The investigation also looked into Thompson and Clark’s reporting to government agencies on “issue motivated groups” which treated these groups as a security threat.

Among the groups were Greenpeace, the Mana Movement and some iwi groups in Northland, the East Coast and Taranaki.

“What concerns me the most is that Thompson and Clark has treated ‘issue motivated groups’ as a security threat in its reporting to government agencies,” Mr Hughes said.

“I am very disappointed that agencies did not challenge Thompson and Clark on this. That is not consistent with how we should view democratic freedom.”

It has been said that nothing illegal was done but it was highly inappropriate and unethical.

Andrea Vance:  Public service bosses ignored warnings about Thompson & Clark for years

Physically, sexually and psychologically abused in state care, two brothers sought legal redress and damages from the Government.

Rather than take responsibility and show contrition, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Crown Law hired private investigators to dig up dirt on witnesses.

This is one of the most shocking findings of an inquiry into the use of external security consultants by government agencies, like Crown Law and MSD.

The brothers – abused by a cook at a state-run school – were subjected to courtroom questioning which suggested they consented to abuse in receiving cigarettes.

They eventually lost their claim – known as the White case – against MSD on a technicality. It had dragged on for more than seven years.

MSD’s boss at the time was Peter Hughes. He is now head of the entire state service.

Hughes acknowledged this on Tuesday when he apologised, saying: “It is never acceptable for an agency to engage in surveillance or information gathering about people or groups just to manage reputational risk to an agency.”

A cavalier attitude to personal and sensitive information, and a troubling disregard for the democratic right to protest, was allowed to flourish within the public service over 15 years and successive governments.

Thompson & Clark have been painted as the villains in this scandal. They will face a police investigation over the use of an unlicensed investigator against earthquake insurance claimants and likely will lose much of their business.

But although they took advantage, Thompson & Clark aren’t responsible for public service culture and the undermining of democratic rights.

That lies with Peter Hughes. For public confidence to be fully restored, the public service must demonstrate accountability and accept culpability, starting from the top down.

So should a head or heads roll over this?

11 Comments

  1. Someone has paid a price.

  2. robertguyton

     /  December 18, 2018

    This joker’s more interesting:
    ““During an appearance on the AM Show yesterday, Mitchell said that after a stint with the police, he headed “overseas, formed my own company, which I was very proud of. I became chairman and CEO of that. And then came home and wanted to get back into public service and then ran for parliament.” So just where was this “overseas”? And what was this company? Overseas was Iraq, and Mitchell’s company provided private military and security services. Mitchell’s period away from public service saw him build a multimillion-dollar business in a highly lucrative and globally competitive commodity – war.”

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/21-02-2018/why-aspiring-national-leader-mark-mitchells-war-for-profit-past-matters/

    I am concerned about this member – I don’t like him or his attitudes or the things he has done.”

    • Gezza

       /  December 18, 2018

      Have you got it in for the police?

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  December 19, 2018

      Your a diversion troll and a hatchet merchant – your post has zero to do with Pete’s post. Mitchell has been open about his background and you are just the typical nasty Leftie trying it on and trying to smear anyone who is not in accordance with your limited dictatorial world view.

      Don’t your trees need whispering or something??

      • Blazer

         /  December 19, 2018

        Mitchell was a Mercenary..period..the euphemism is ‘security contracter’…his role as a National M.P was enabled by Slater /Lusk=fact.
        Surprisingly for an ex plod he comes across quite well.
        Heard him and ‘Nashy’ talking this morning..conclusion..’Nashy’ is fucking useless.

  3. Gezza

     /  December 18, 2018

    So should a head or heads roll over this?
    This development got its own very extensive & long segment as a priority item on 1ewes. It’s utterly disgraceful & seems to have happened big time under the National administration. It was bad enuf learning that the SIS and the GCSB were illegally spying on New Zealanders. To find out government departments and agencies were hiring private spies is disgusting.

    Peter Hughes, now the State Services Commissioner, crying crocodile tears and pretending it’s got nothing to do with him made me want to put my foot thru ma’s tv. He needs to be gone by lunchtime tomorrow. And be followed by others.

    Prosecutions ought to be considered.

  4. Blazer

     /  December 18, 2018

    no surprises that this occurred..National plumbed new depths with their dedicated black ops department wirth Ede and Eagleson Johnkey ..deep.

  5. duperez

     /  December 18, 2018

    Southern Response resignation. Mmmmm.

    • Blazer

       /  December 19, 2018

      Methgate..’sorry’…spygate..’sorry’…filthy low fuck National =no morals,no integrity,no commitment to NZ!