More journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018

While murder murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudia Arabia in their Consulate in Turkey received a lot of media attention, attacks on journalists were quite widespread, with:

  • 80 killed
  • 3 missing
  • 60 held hostage
  • 348 detained

That’s alarming, and a record high.

Reporters Without Borders: WORLDWIDE ROUND-UP of journalists killed, detained, held hostage, or missing in 2018 

Although the number of journalists killed in 2017 was less than in previous years, 2018 saw the death toll of journalists rise to a shocking total of 80 journalists killed worldwide (including professional journalists, non-professional journalists and media workers). The number of professional journalists killed rose 15%, from 55 in 2017 to 63 in 2018.

The number of non-professional journalists also rose, from seven last year to 13 this year. Non-professional journalists play a fundamental role in the production of news and information in countries with oppressive regimes and countries at war, where it is hard for professional journalists to operate. In addition to these very alarming figures, there are ten other deaths that RSF is still investigating.

In all, 49 of these journalists (61% of the total) were deliberately targeted because their reporting threatened the interests of certain people in positions of political, economic, or religious power or organized crime. The cases of Ján Kuciak, a Slovak investigative reporter shot dead in his home on 21 February, and Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist murdered in the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on 2 October, show how far some people will go to silence “troublesome” journalists.

Deadliest countries:

  • Afhaanistan 15
  • Syria 11
  • Mexico 9
  • Yemen 8
  • United States 6
  • India 6

The US features due to a single attack in Annapolis, Maryland when four journalists (and one other employee) were shot.

Two others were killed in an accident – a local TV anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering Subtropical Storm Alberto’s extreme weather in North Carolina in May.

Nearly half of the media fatalities were in countries not at war

The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three – India, Mexico, and for the first time the United States – where journalists were killed in cold blood although these countries were not at war or in conflict. Once again, Mexico was the deadliest of the countries not at war, with nine journalists murdered in 2018.

Journalism and media are essential components of a free and open society, so attacks on journalists are an attack on freedom.

CNN:  Journalists faced ‘unprecedented’ hostility this year, report says

The findings further highlight the volatility faced by journalists across the world over the past twelve months, a period which has seen high-profile murders and imprisonments as well as verbal attacks on the news media by key global figures, including US President Donald Trump.

“Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said in a news release accompanying the report.

“The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” he added.

Politicians depend on journalists, but some act poorly when they receive media scrutiny.

Journalists and media are increasingly criticised – some of that criticism is justified, but generally attacks on media are self-interested attacks on a free and open society.

Controversial renaming of Victoria University blocked by Minister

A controversial attempt by the Victoria University Council to rename themselves as as University of Wellington has been blocked by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has declined Victoria University of Wellington Council’s application for a legal name change.

The Council formally made an application to change the institution’s name to the University of Wellington on 27 September 2018.

“I have considered the University’s recommendation and supporting information along with advice received from officials,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Council identified benefits that it considered would follow a name change and its consultation process which, although the subject of some criticism, brought out a wide range of views.

“The Council’s consultation showed that staff were divided on the name change, and there was significant opposition from alumni and students who responded. This opposition is also reflected in surveys conducted by the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association and the VUW Law Students’ Society, and to a lesser extent one from the Tertiary Education Union.

“I also received more than 450 pieces of correspondence on the name change question from students, alumni and others mostly opposed to the name change. Many of these referred to a change.org petition with more than 10,000 signatories listed as opposing the name change.

“While Victoria University of Wellington, like other universities, has significant autonomy in making academic, operational and management decisions, it is accountable to its community and the groups that make up the University.

“I am not convinced that the University engaged sufficiently with the views of those stakeholders who should have their views considered. Given the level of opposition to the University’s recommendation, including by its own staff, students and alumni, I am not persuaded that the recommendation is consistent with the demands of accountability and the national interest.

From what I have seen there had been widespread opposition to the renaming on social media, and the decision of Hipkins has generally been applauded.

I haven’t seen any grizzling about the decision.

“In the interests of transparency, I am releasing the advice I have received to inform my decision on the application for a name change,” Chris Hipkins said.

Good to see a Minister walking the transparency talk.

 

No Pride Parade in 2019

The Auckland Pride Parade became quite controversial recently with what looked like infighting. It appears that next year’s parade has been scrapped.

Gay Express: NO PRIDE PARADE, GALA, OR PARTY FOR AUCKLAND IN 2019

Auckland Pride has just announced there will be no parade next year.

In place of a Pride parade, there will instead be a ‘march’ which express understands will not involve the previous corporates that have participated in previous years.

There will also be no opening gala or closing party in 2019.

The announced was made at tonight’s community hui at Freeman’s Bay community hall.

According to a number present at the meeting, the decision appears to have been made prior to the meeting.

The 2019 Auckland Pride Festival will run from February 1-17th.

So far there are roughly 40 less events being held next year as there was in 2018.

NZ Herald:  Auckland Pride Parade scrapped and will be replaced by march, reports suggest

The reports come after more than $30,000 was raised to replace Pride’s corporate funding with community pūtea on Givealittle.

The page was created after several corporations withdrew their financial support for the event.

“And while we find this disappointing, we also see it as an opportunity to reclaim Pride for the community,” the Givealittle page read.

“We are raising funds to help make Auckland Pride 2019 the best one yet.”

At the start of this month, the Auckland Pride Board survived a vote of no confidence after division in the LGBTI+ community.

The board hit turbulence last month when it announced it would ban uniformed police officers from marching down Ponsonby Rd at the annual event.

Pride seems divided.

Chris Finlayson – valedictory statement

“Some people please wherever they go; other people please whenever they go.”

Chris Finlayson, National list MP since 2005 and ex Attorney general, Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, gave his valedictory speech in his last day in Parliament yesterday.

Praise for some (from several parties) – some were to be expected, but of note is a special mention for Nikki Kay’s determination. a few jokes and barbs, and quite a few suggestions – like promoting a four year term. And while he opposes term limits for MPs he suggests a a compulsory sabbatical after five three-year terms or four four-year terms, which “would allow MPs to re-enter the real world and if they are odd enough to want to come back, well, they can do so.”

Finlayson’s speech (with some edits):


Mr Speaker, I have to say, I’m delighted to be leaving. In fact, I would have gone sooner, but I stayed on a few more months for a few reasons. First, Jim Bolger advised me not to go straight after the new Government was formed but to wait until about October, and I always follow the advice of Jim Bolger.

I have to say, secondly, I’ve really enjoyed the camaraderie of the caucus, especially getting to know and work with the 2017 intake.

Thirdly, I’ve been very keen to progress reform of the law of contempt, a hugely important topic I had spent many, many years trying to advance, and it’s one of the ironies of politics that I succeeded in Opposition. The recent debate over suppression orders shows why the bill is so very important. It’s now in the Justice Committee, in safe hands, and so I don’t need to stay until the bill is enacted.

Could I begin with the acknowledgments. In no particular hierarchy or order, I want first to acknowledge my opponents. The Labour opponents that I had in Mana and Rongotai, Winnie Laban, Annette King, and Paul Eagle and their spouses, are very, very nice people. I really enjoyed their company. The campaigns were pleasant and issues-focused.

I have to say I have great respect for social democracy, though I prefer liberal conservatism. But I still admire the courage of the 1984-87 Labour Government in the economics area, even if the Labour Party doesn’t. The changes they made were essential and overdue.

Can I say something about the Greens—far from me politically in many areas, but we always got on well. Kennedy Graham is someone I regard as a good friend, a man of principle and courage, and someone who still has a lot to contribute, and I hope that party can look beyond divisions of the past and use his talents.

I also acknowledge James Shaw and, particularly, Teall Crossen, who was the Green candidate in Rongotai in 2017. I think she has a great future, or perhaps she had a great future till I started praising her.

… I now turn to talk about New Zealand First. The most I can say to them is: thank you very much for not choosing the National Party in 2017. As is well-known, I think we dodged a bullet. That decision lays the foundations for a National Government in 2020.

Then, there’s my National Party family, but especially Judy Kirk, whose decency and warmth helped the National Party recover in 2002.

I need to say something about the media, because they are not the enemy and should never be referred to in that way. Their work is essential to our democracy. I promised Tova O’Brien I would say this: I especially acknowledge the young, clever, and classy TV3 team, Audrey Young, who’s the best bush lawyer in Wellington, and I’d better mention Claire Trevett and Barry Soper, otherwise they’ll get snarky.

I’ve almost forgiven Guyon Espiner, who taught me a very good lesson: do not appear on Morning Report just after you’ve woken up. I remember very well the morning he interviewed me and put a proposition to me from Metiria Turei, and I said, “Oh, well that’s what happens when one is dealing with a left-wing loon.”

And he put another proposition to me, and I said, “Well, that’s what happens when one is dealing with a right-wing loon.”, and he said, “Well that commentator was John Key.” The message came down from the ninth floor that if I wanted to be Minister for Consumer Affairs I was on the right track.

‘ve worked for so many iwi over the years, so many people to mention: my old friend O’Regan’s sitting up there from Ngāi Tahu; Vanessa Eparaima from Ngāti Raukawa; the gentleman, kind Tiwha Bell from Maniapoto; the wise Tāmati Kruger from Tūhoe; Kirsti Luke from Tūhoe also of Ngāpuhi, who needs to go to Ngāpuhi to sort out of few of her cousins; and all of my wonderful colleagues in Taranaki. I especially mention my friends in Parihaka, who cannot be here tonight because of their commitment on the 18th of each month. People have said some nice things about me in recent days but these people are the ones who made the settlements happen.

I also acknowledge John Key and Bill English, without whose active support nothing would have been achieved.

I also acknowledge John Key and Bill English, without whose active support nothing would have been achieved. I say to Andrew Little that this is the best job in Government. Don’t worry about setbacks. Just when it seems a negotiation has gone all wrong something very good can and invariably does happen. I mean who knows, Sonny Tau could decide to go and live in Iceland!

Lastly and most importantly, my family: I acknowledge my mother, who is Annette King’s second cousin, a great person.

So that’s the nice warm stuff, and now for the inevitable lecture. Although I cannot wait to leave, I have great respect for the institution of Parliament. I think there are ways to improve our institution, and I outline a few of them now.

How long should the Parliamentary term be? I think it needs to be four years—three years is too short. A longer term will make for an effective Parliament. The proposal to lengthen the term failed in a referendum many years ago. It’s time to revisit the issue.

How long should MPs be permitted to serve? Imposition of term limits as a non-starter, but I think there should be a compulsory sabbatical after five three-year terms or four four-year terms—don’t look at me like that. A break would allow MPs to re-enter the real world and if they are odd enough to want to come back, well, they can do so.

How should parties be funded? A very important question, because generally I think our funding rules work well. But I have become concerned about funding of political parties by non-nationals. That’s why I think both major parties need to work together to review the rules relating to funding. I have a personal view that it should be illegal for non-nationals to donate to our political parties.

One of the things that amazes me in this place is that there really is a lack of practical understanding of the separation of powers. For example, the Ministry of Justice constantly fails to recognise the judiciary as a separate branch of Government, and sometimes the courts overstep the mark with Parliament when they go too far with Parliamentary privilege, as they did—David Parker knows these things. We passed the Parliamentary Privilege Act. Now, Parliament must deal with the consequences of the prisoner voting case. Parliament could nullify the decision, as we did in 2014, or recognise the court’s jurisdiction, provided Parliament makes it clear that there is no jurisdiction to strike down legislation. This will be an intensely important issue for Parliament in 2019. I shall be watching it with great interest from the sidelines.

Finally, I want to address a few comments to my fellow National MPs—my friends and colleagues for many years, a diverse and a talented bunch, you lot. I’ve said quite a bit over recent times about John Key and Bill English, so my praise for those two great New Zealanders can be taken as read. I have no intention of saying any more nice things about Ian McKelvie. He’s had his quota. But I do want to say something about two MPs I greatly admire.

First, Gerry Brownlee: when the history of the Key Government is written, his work rebuilding a shattered city will be regarded as that Government’s greatest achievement. I witnessed in Cabinet his absolute commitment to and compassion for his fellow Cantabrians. Sometimes I felt that his contribution has been taken for granted—well, not by me, because I think he’s a great New Zealander.

And secondly I want to acknowledge Nikki Kaye, who won Auckland Central in 2008 and has held it since then. Auckland Central is very like Rongotai, except Nikki wins Auckland Central. She was a Minister with a brilliant future and, as we know, was very unwell last year, but she fought that cancer and is doing a tremendous job in Opposition. I strongly support her bill on teaching foreign languages. She’s an example to all of us of grit, of courage, and of determination.

…New Zealand needs a liberal conservative Government in 2020. Some say we have no friends; I think friendship’s overrated—just a joke. But I actually think we’re turning back into a two-party State.

I think the SOE model is past its use-by date; in particular, Landcorp needs to go and its farms need to be sold to iwi. In my nine years as Minister for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, I regret to say—well, Ron Mark knows these things—I always found Landcorp difficult and uncooperative.

We need to continue to update our constitution. The Senior Courts Act is now law and soon we’re going to have a Parliament Act—I hope. Then we need to review the Treaty of Waitangi Act. There have been some complaints recently that insufficient attention is paid to the tribunal’s recommendations; it would help if they were more practical. The shares plus decision, for example, was described as incoherent and ignoring basic principles of company law. And finally, we need to pass the Te Ture Whenua Bill in the first 100 days of a new administration. The product of a careful review and many years’ consultation, it’s going to provide landowners with a world-class regime of registration and dispute resolution.

When I delivered my maiden speech from this very seat in November 2005, I said the liberal conservative was concerned to govern and the public good and the national interest, confident in the knowledge that this is a great country full of talented and decent people. Other countries have problems; New Zealand has a project—an exciting, sometimes difficult, but nevertheless achievable project. As I give my last speech in the House today in the same place where I started, I stand by those words. I’m very pleased to be going, but grateful I’ve had the opportunity to serve.

Members probably know the old wisecrack, “Some people please wherever they go; other people please whenever they go.”, and I’m sure many will be thinking the second part applies to me—although, I understand, not Mr Robertson. I have it on excellent authority that he’s distraught and is currently undergoing counselling.

In 2005, Michael Collins said in the Address in Reply debate that he wasn’t convinced of “this sort of Latinate habit of everyone kissing each other after every maiden speech”, and I agree. It’s a dreadful habit. I think the same principle applies to valedictories, so Mr Speaker, fellow members of the House, that’s all from me. If anyone needs a lawyer in the future, don’t bother me. All the best. Goodbye.


See also Imminent departure of MP Chris Finlayson

Media watch – Wednesday

19 December 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

General chat

“Is there any way we could have a thread for the more lightweight stuff like music and general chat?”

Do it here. Please no personal attacks or bickering. Anything abusive, provocative or inflammatory may be deleted.

Open Forum – Wednesday

19 December 2018

Forum

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria.

World view – Wednesday

Tuesday GMT

WorldWatch2

For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

Ardern finally fronts up on Hardcore re Sroubek

Jacinda Ardern made things difficult for herself for nearly two months by evading questions over her connection to Richie hardcore, who is connected to Karel Sroubek and his attempt to avoid deportation.

Ardern finally saw fit to provide what sounds like a reasonable explanation in Parliament today:

This is the only text I received on the matter of Mr Sroubek. It’s the only communication I had with him on Mr Sroubek. I’ve had no conversations with Mr Hardcore on this case, nor would it have been appropriate. Again, as I’ve said time and time again in this House, I had no involvement in this case, no knowledge of it until it was in the public domain, and the member very well knows that the Minister himself made the decision one afternoon, with officials in the room, after no conversations with any other members of Parliament.

Most of the exchange in Question Time in Parliament today.

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her statements and actions in relation to Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes, and season’s greetings to the member.

Hon Simon Bridges: Thank you. Will she release the precise content of the text message she received from Richie Hardcore about Karel Sroubek; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve already indicated in public interviews, I am concerned around precedent setting. Obviously, I receive hundreds of messages from members of the public on issues where I have no clear involvement or decision-making role. I have, however, given an indication of the content of that text. I’ve acknowledged that Mr Hardcore acknowledged to me that he knew Mr Sroubek and, of course, that he agreed and commended the decision because he knew Mr Sroubek. I’ve also acknowledged that I did not respond and that I received the message after the decision was made and after it was in the public domain.

Hon Simon Bridges: What exactly did the text message say?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I’ve said, I wish to seek some advice from the Ombudsman on the handling of information that I receive from members of the public, because I receive hundreds of messages. Indeed, on this case, I have received over a hundred messages—obviously, some not so favourable. I am seeking some guidance from the Ombudsman as to how I handle each of those individual pieces of correspondence.

Hon Simon Bridges: Was it a thank-you text?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: When we went down and advised ourselves that I had received that message—openly—I acknowledged that it commended the Government on its decision.

Hon Simon Bridges: How many text messages has she received from Richie Hardcore while Prime Minister?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I just simply cannot answer that. I have said from the outset that I’ve known Mr Hardcore for a number of years. My recollection is primarily that it was through his role with Community Alcohol & Drug Services as an anti – drug and alcohol campaigner based in Auckland, and subsequently his involvement as an anti – violence and sexual violence campaigner. My understanding is that he’ll know a number of members on that side of the House, as he does in Parliament generally.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is this the only text message she’s received from Richie Hardcore while Prime Minister: one solitary text message about Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’ve already acknowledged that I know Mr Hardcore through a range of his work and functions and roles. I’ve already acknowledged that publicly. This is the only text I received on the matter of Mr Sroubek. It’s the only communication I had with him on Mr Sroubek. I’ve had no conversations with Mr Hardcore on this case, nor would it have been appropriate. Again, as I’ve said time and time again in this House, I had no involvement in this case, no knowledge of it until it was in the public domain, and the member very well knows that the Minister himself made the decision one afternoon, with officials in the room, after no conversations with any other members of Parliament.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why didn’t she directly answer Susie Ferguson’s question today on Richie Hardcore on Morning Report: “How would you characterise him? Is he a friend or a family friend?”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would not characterise him as a family friend. He’s someone I’ve known for a number of years, and I’ve been very open about that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she know why he has repeatedly, in the recent past, described her as someone he’s lucky enough to call a friend?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have no qualms about him doing so. What is at question and in play here is whether or not I had any engagement with Mr Hardcore over this case, and as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, the answer is no. In fact, when his name was first raised in Parliament, it was myself and my office that proactively acknowledged that I had received a message from him.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept that Iain Lees-Galloway took less than an hour to decide the Sroubek matter?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, and this raises the contradiction in the member’s line of questioning, he has consistently criticised the Minister for making the decision the same day he was informed of the case but, at the same time, has tried to imply there was inappropriate involvement from other members and Ministers. The fact is the Minister has always acknowledged he made the decision on the day it was given to him, the first time he was told of the case, when he was in a closed room with officials.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept that Sroubek is a gang-affiliated, convicted drug dealer?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I accept that the Minister of Immigration has now made a decision that would lead to the deportation of that individual.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept that Richie Hardcore made representations for Sroubek that are on the deportation file the Minister considered?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I can only rely on what the Minister of Immigration has said in this House because I am not aware and do not know who made representations, but my understanding is that last week in the House, the Minister of Immigration ruled out him being involved or making representations on this deportation order.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept that she knows that same Richie Hardcore well?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’ve acknowledged that in the House; I’ve made no secret of that. I have known Mr Hardcore for a number of years in a number of guises.

If Ardern had been as explicit as this weeks ago she would have avoided a lot of hassle and speculation.

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?