Westpac apologises and settles with Nicky Hager over privacy breach

Westpac have apologised to Nicky Hager and agree to pay costs and compensation, settling a complaint by Nicky Hager when Westpac illegally provided the police with banking data when investigating the hack of Cameron Slater (breaching his privacy) that contributed to the book Dirty Politics.

Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer:

Nicky Hager has settled his privacy dispute with Westpac with the Bank agreeing to change its terms. Full media statement below.

NZ Herald details Westpac’s apology in Westpac admits breaching Nicky Hager’s privacy by giving records to police

Westpac said in a statement its new policy now required a production order from authorities before releasing private information, except in “extremely limited circumstances” such as Police searches for missing persons.

“We apologise to Hager for our part in the distress these events have caused him and his family”.

“Westpac’s practice at that time was to comply with such requests in the belief that it was entitled to do so under the Privacy Act. However, in the light of the public discussion of Hager’s and other cases, it is clear that bank customers reasonably expect that in similar circumstances such data will be kept private.”

While this is a victory for Hager it is also a win for privacy in general and proper police investigation processes.

The police have already apologised and settled:  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”.

There are other questions raised in this about the speed and degree police investigated Hager after a complaint by Slater, compared to how the police have dealt with complaints made against Slater, for example the soliciting of a hack of The Standard, which Slater admitted in being offered (by police) and getting diversion despite having had diversion previously.

 

Leave a comment

23 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  8th March 2019

    This took place under Nationals reign and slater was an attack lackey like farrar for the party of rich pricks…now the party of hate filled losers

    Reply
    • Finbaar Rustle

       /  8th March 2019

      Hate filled National losers is true, well on this site any way.
      Hate and entitlement drives National party politics especially when in opposition.
      2020 will see hate being National’s primary policy..
      If by chance Labour holds on in 2020 (no guarantee) by 2023 National’s
      mania for a return to power will see the Nat’s hate index go through the roof.
      All of national’s victories have been founded on hate and
      appealing to base prejudice and ignorance.
      It’s what they do best.
      Worked for 70 years why change now.

      Reply
  2. Corky

     /  8th March 2019

    I have no time for this toerag. And a case could be made for hypocrisy on his part. But I think this decision is fair.

    It’s a reminder to all that if the police come calling, your doctor, dentist, accountant, bank, Chiropractor and mechanic will all sell you out, 9 times out of 10.

    They don’t want trouble, especially with the police executing a search warrant.

    And those privacy policies…. mostly bullshit. Only enforced on people of no consequence.

    If Hager thinks things will change, he is wrong.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th March 2019

      Dont even need a search warrant, if Police want some specific business documents, they have the power to issue a ‘production order’ to get them. Its just a letter signed by a Senior Sargent and thats it.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  8th March 2019

        But can they do that separate from a Search Warrant?

        ”A Production Order is a judicial authorisation that compels a person, including an organisation, to disclose documents and records to an authorised peace officer. Compared to Search Warrants. A production order cannot be used to circumvent standard search warrant to invade privacy of an accused.”

        I have never heard of a PO before. Live and learn.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  8th March 2019

          Google “Search & Surveiilance Act Production Order nz”, Corky. I haven’t crawled through all the relevant clauses & this early iPad2 of me late mum’s is too slow to research with, but I think Duker could be right & it’s possible that the Act was amended & that a police sergeant’s acceptance of an internal request for one, certifying that it meets the criteria in the act, would be all that’s required now to get Hager’s details.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  8th March 2019

            *Surveillance

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  8th March 2019

              You can see how useful it is for real crime…but its gone too far. when asked how many POs issued . Police just say they dont keep records.

              I think they should be signed off at Superindent level – and not some one acting in the position for that day- thats another trick the Cops use, mainly as …acting Sergeants , but only for a few hours mind you.
              Not what you would think , some one is on leave for 3 weeks and they fill the job temporarily

            • Gezza

               /  8th March 2019

              If that’s true that’s dodgy as all get out. Other regulatory government agencies have to keep those records available on individuals’ files.

            • Gezza

               /  8th March 2019

              I’m pretty sure they’d have to enter them into their electronic records as well and that queries can be run to pull the stats.

  3. Blazer

     /  8th March 2019

    Another example of what very,very poor members of society bankers…are.

    Bereft of moral virtue and eager practicioners of chicanery ,parasites on mankind.

    Reply
  4. PDB

     /  8th March 2019

    Not so much a “victory for privacy” is making money from a book based on stolen private emails of a NZ citizen (who had committed no crime) under the false pretence of being in the ‘public interest’ when in reality the book actually had the opposite effect to which it was intended.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  8th March 2019

      politically inspired jiggery pokery.

      Incensed National to have their dirty laundry out in the open….giant stains…everywhere.

      Reply
  5. Ray

     /  8th March 2019

    If you think the police and banker are bad, try the insurance companies.
    Bloke came in yesterday wanting to do a declaration.
    He was claiming for a stolen car and the insurance company wanted his phone records.
    No warrant, just a demand and presumably a “no” means they will declare he must be guilty, so no payout.

    Reply
  6. alloytoo

     /  8th March 2019

    Poor little Nicky, so precious about his own privacy, never gives a shit about anyone elses……

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  8th March 2019

      Slater went to court about his privacy breach…. Judge told him the political stuff was ‘public interest’ , except his personal affairs .
      Slater hacked ( along with some dudes in beehive) labours web site and obtained a database of payments but it was ‘ un readable’ , he had his tech guru ( Yes Slater a former databank computer operator is no tech guru, I know his tech gurus name but dont want it to give PG grief) reformat the data by using the correct DB software to allow it to be read.
      Slater later on admitted he paid some guy to try and hack the Standard website for which he got police diversion.

      What was your point again

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  8th March 2019

        My point is that Nicky is a hypocritical asshole, Slater too.

        I also think that if public interest is such a damn solid defense then why did the public have to wait for Nicky to write a book. Publish the information raw……oh but Nicky couldn’t control the narrative then.

        We are ill served by both of them claiming to be journalists.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th March 2019

          Where does the hypocrisy came in ? Are you worried it only concentrated on the government and didnt kick labour as well …oh thats right you havent read Hagers previous book when Clark was PM.

          Reply
          • PDB

             /  8th March 2019

            Hager is a far-left winger, Helen Clarks govt wasn’t particularly loved by him either as they were seen as being too near the centre & treated the Green party like crap.

            Reply

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