Bradbury in court today contesting secret trial

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog: My trial against the NZ Police starts this month in Wellington – an invitation to NZ media

In 2014, the NZ Police secretly included me in their failed prosecution against Nicky Hager. Somehow, Cameron Slater managed to convince a friendly Police force that a shadowy conspiracy was involved in the hack against him that was the content for Hager’s ground breaking ‘Dirty Politics‘ book.

The Police illegally gained access to Hager’s bank records and illegally searched his house. At the time, I argued that the NZ Police could use their misuse of power to damage the credit ratings of activists they didn’t like, little did I appreciate how that would later encompass me.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal, the only court with the power to hold the Police to account, finally agreed to hearing my case two years after I started the process and 5 years after the Police had gotten away with it, but there was a shocking sting in the tail of that decision, the Police demanded to hold the trial in secret while using secret evidence against me to stop me from finding out why they were spying on me and who spied on me. 

In 2014, I was deeply involved with the MANA Party and talking to Kim Dotcom re his Internet Party. I was also leading the fight against the SIS and GCSB from obtaining mass surveillance powers. That there was surveillance on me and that the Police gained my banking records without any search warrant made me furious, but that the Police were now trying to hold the trial in secret simply shocked me beyond articulation.

Whatever you think of my politics, whether you vote National, Labour, NZ First, ACT or Green – we can all agree that to allow the Police to hold a secret trial using secret evidence in a court battle over their misuse of power is a precedent that simply must not be allowed to happen.

This legal battle is a unique one because the Police have never before been able to gain secret trails in a Human Rights Review case. On Wednesday 14th August, I am in Wellington with my lawyer Graeme Edgeler to argue against the State gaining the power to use secret trials.

Please note, we aren’t even at the stage where my case against the Police taking my bank records without a search warrant will actually be heard, we are debating the Police’s right to hold the trial in secret in the first place.

I appreciate that I’m deeply critical of many mainstream media journalists and that this legal battle to date has not been covered much outside of the NZ Herald or columns by  Chris Trotter and Oscar Kightley, but this legal case matters and it is unique.

If the NZ Police are able to create a precedence for secret trials using secret evidence, that impacts every single one of us as citizens in this democracy and so I invite all mainstream media to cover this exceptional trial on Wednesday 14th in Wellington. The only reason the Police are trying this on is because they don’t think anyone is paying attention.

My lawyer, Graeme Edgeler and I will be available for comment after the hearing.

The personal toll this has taken to get this case this far has been greater than I could have ever imagined, but if we individually refuse to stand against the abuse of power by the State, then we all collectively suffer.

Update – NZ Herald report on today’s hearing:  Fight over ‘secret evidence’ after police access bank records without warrant

In a Human Rights Review Tribunal hearing in Wellington this morning, lawyer for the police Vicki McCall said the tribunal must have “inherent power” to receive secret evidence.

The tribunal wouldn’t be able to determine whether means used to obtain the information were unfair or unreasonable without knowing what the circumstances of the case were, she said.

Police were “required” to withhold the information and without it they could not adequately defend themselves.

If the tribunal did not allow a closed hearing, police’s next move would be an application to strike out the case altogether.

“The claim should not, in fairness, be tried at all.”

The step could mark the first time the tribunal accepted secret evidence in a closed hearing against the objections of the person who had brought the prosecution.

Bradbury’s lawyer, Graeme Edgeler, said his client was in an “odd position”.

“Had police actually done a lawful search and found the information that had linked him to Rawshark and prosecuted him, he would be entitled to this information. The reason he’s not, is that he’s innocent,” he said.

“They’re not going to be wholly incapable of defending this claim if they can’t rely on this document.”

He said Bradbury being told what type of information police were planning to use would go some way to “assuage his concerns”.

“The blanket refusal to release this document – not explain what the document is, not explain the nature of the document – that is an interference with his privacy.”

Journalist Nicky Hager received an apology after police obtained 10 months of his banking records.

Hager wrote the book Dirty Politics based on information allegedly hacked by Rawshark.

Barrister Felix Geiringer, who acted for Hager in the Dirty Politics fallout, said it was a matter of law that procedures in hearings which were hidden from other parties were “extraordinary” and only to be used in “extremely limited circumstances, if ever”.

In Bradbury’s case, the Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has already ruled police “were not justified” asking for the banking record, and the case should have been put before a judicial officer.

Unsurprisingly the Human Rights Review Tribunal has reserved its decision, which means a decision will be made whenever they get around to it.

A decision made in favour of Matt Blomfield v Cameron Slater Hearings were held in October 2014 and February 2015, and the decision only came out on 12 March this year – see IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW TRIBUNAL [2019] NZHRRT 13

Leave a comment

9 Comments

  1. Loki

     /  14th August 2019

    Who bets the cops are just embarrassed that they listened to the paranoid whining from guess who and went charging off to look at all the hapless muppets he accused. And that is why the cops are trying to keep details hidden.
    Acute embarrassment.
    I for one hope Bradbury gets a massive payout if only to cause further tantrums from our hero.

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th August 2019

    The police are self-interested highly political organisation with unlimited funding. We must all hope Bradbury wins to ensure publicity can constrain abuses of their powers.

    Reply
  3. Let’s not pretend poor Mr Bradbury is an innocent party here. [Deleted claim with no supplied (or known to me) evidence. PG], and a criminal act was committed. He has a history of associating with seditious people. He may be on an SIS watchlist, and that makes supposed “illegal” searches a matter of national security, the reasons for which the police would want to keep from being public.

    I am not claiming Bradbury doesn’t have a right to open hearings, or even justice for what has been visited upon him. My faith in the NZ Police is pretty low. But there may be legitimate and, unfortunately, perfectly legal reasons for what happened that we are unable to be told.

    Reply
  4. I have added a report on the hearing to the post.

    Reply
  5. Loki

     /  15th August 2019

    Well..
    A bit shocked..
    The police are doomed.
    Bomber got satisfaction from two banks and has more than 180,000 reasons to feel confident.
    Don’t care for him much but if the cops get away with this they will sniff all out panties.

    Reply

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