NZ Customs accused of abusing powers ahead of Blomfield book launch

Felix Geiringer was Matthew Blomfield’s lawyer for part of the Blomfield v Slater defamation proceedings. He has also represented Nicky Hager.

On Twitter today:

NZ Customs have been accused of abusing their powers to discover a book title. The book is being launched by Nicky Hager.

The book is being launched this evening. The details of the book, including its title, have been embargoed until after the launch.

The book has been written by Margie Thomson. Nicky Hager has written the forward and will be speaking at tonight’s launch.

The book is being published by Potton & Burton, the same publisher that publishes Nicky Hager’s books.

On the weekend, someone carrying a manuscript of the book was stopped by NZ Customs while trying to enter New Zealand.

The passenger has asked not to be named at this stage. The following is the passenger’s account of what happened.

“They pulled me and my whole family into a side room and insisted on searching our luggage. At first, I thought it was just a random search, but it became clear to me that the two officers conducting the search were looking for something specific.

“When they found the manuscript they started questioning me about it. They wanted to know what the book was about. I told them the details were embargoed and I could not discuss it, but they wouldn’t let it go.

“They wanted to know the title of the book. They told me they wouldn’t let us through Customs unless I told them. They told me I would receive a hefty fine for refusing to tell them.

“I thought the search was abusive. I had three young girls travelling with me and they became very upset. It was over the top behaviour from Customs.

“I could not understand what the title of this book could possibly have to do with a Customs search. I asked, but they would not tell me. They just kept threatening me with dire consequences if I did not answer their questions.

“I just do not understand. Why were Customs using their powers to find out the title of this book?”

I am not independent of the people behind this book. But I think that NZ Customs have some explaining to do.

It is very difficult to see how the demand for details about this book, including its title, could possibly be a legitimate exercise of Customs’ powers.

If the search occurred as alleged, and these passengers were being detained so that these Customs Officers could pursue an illegitimate line of enquiry about the book then that also brings into question the legality of the detention.

Sounds concerning. Another lawyer has a suggestion:

If it is a manuscript of an unpublished book how can it be on a banned list?

How would NZ Customs know about it and try to find out the title? Unless they say some papers and tried to find out what they were, but that seems very unusual.

Police re-investigating home invasion assault after complaint by Blomfield

Police are re-investigating a 2014 home invasion in which Matthew Blomfield was seriously assaulted, including being shot at in front of his family. The assailant was caught through  a DNA match, convicted and imprisoned, but the motive was never disclosed. Blomfield has complained to the police that others may have been involved, but until recently they have not done much to investigate.

This is detailed in David Fisher’s latest Big Read:  The blogger and the businessman – how the police failed, and new inquiries into a vicious home invasion

I’m familiar with a lot of the history covered in this. I have posted here about the attacks against Blomfield on Whale Oil, the long defamation case that resulted in Cameron Slater being found in October 2018 by a judge to have no defence (Slater recently withdrew an appeal), the illegal use of private data when a hard drive was supplied to Blomfield, and a number of other related things.

I have also posted about the assault on Blomfield. What is new are the claims of police inaction in investigating, and the current re-investigating.

Remember how quickly the police investigated Nicky Hager after a complaint by Slater that he had been hacked? The police overstepped in their raid on Hager’s home and obtaining bank information, for which they have since apologised for and paid compensation.

Remember how the police investigated and prosecuted Ben Rachinger after a complaint by Slater? And how, when Slater was prosecuted for trying procure a hack of The Standard, the police gave him diversion after Slater accepted guilt (but soon after posted that his contrition was not genuine).

Blomfield seems to have had a lot more difficulty getting the police to investigate for him, on complicity in the assault, and in how Slater got thehard drive. This has ended up resulting in a complaint to Independent Police Conduct Authority, and the re-opening of an investigation.

Blomfield’s complaints to police began in April 2012 when he told police Slater had obtained a hard drive with his personal and business information. Slater used the material as the basis of a series of blog posts over the next six months which led to the seven-year defamation action.

Blomfield’s interaction with police over the next four years included complaints about the hard drive, being interviewed as the victim of a home invasion which took place in April 2014 and a further complaint after his computer was hacked – possibly on more than one occasion.

Blomfield complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority over police handling of complaints, leading to a review of police files identified areas that “warrant further police investigation”.

Detective Inspector Hayden Mander followed with a letter in December 2017 in which he said there had been multiple failures by police investigating a range of complaints.

On the hard drive:

He said there was “little comprehension” the first complaint about the hard drive could be seen as a possible crime involving the use of the data.

“Having reviewed the file, I believe there was a failure from the outset in comprehending the complexity of this investigation; in that it might be something other than a theft or burglary.

“Once computer crime was considered, there are gaps in the investigation and there was a lack of comprehensive assessment of the criminal culpability of the persons of interest that were identified during the inquiry.”

Mander, who has since left the police, said a specific complaint of “computer crime” had been made by Blomfield at the time. He said there was no evidence it had been investigated and no victim statement had been taken.

He said there needed to be a new investigation into the use of the hard drive and whether it was a “computer crime”.

There is an irony over Slater using the hard drive data to post a series of attacks on Blomfield on Whale Oil – Slater has long claimed bitterly about being hacked and data obtained being used to discredit him.

Mander also said police had not properly investigated a complaint by Blomfield made in 2014 after emails of his post-dating the hard drive were published online. The emails were from a password-protected cloud service, leading Blomfield to complain his information had been hacked.

On the assault:

Mander’s letter said there were further failures by police, including around a terrifying assault on Blomfield at his Greenhithe home in April 2014.

The incident saw Ned Tehuru Paraha, now 41, enter the home where Blomfield and his family live, face covered with a Spiderman mask and carrying a shotgun.

During the assault which followed, Paraha fired a shotgun at Blomfield on at least two occasions. One of Blomfield’s young daughters hid inside while the other saw her father – and for a period, her mother – fight back against the invader until he was forced to flee.

Blomfield was left seriously injured as a result of the assault, and has since testified as to the lasting damage the attack had on his and his family’s feeling of safety and security in their own home.

Paraha was caught a month later and pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to injure, aggravated burglary and assault with intent to injure. He was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison.

Mander said the “front end” of the investigation – Paraha’s identification through DNA and conviction – was carried out properly.

No reason or motive was disclosed.

“However, it was acknowledged from those conducting the police investigation and from yourself that others were likely responsible for the planning of this offending.

“To date, no-one else has been held to account for this offending.

“Despite you advising police of your suspicions that specific people were involved in the planning of this offending, these avenues of inquiry have never been followed up. Further, you have provided police with other lines of inquiry that remain on the file but have not been completed.”

Mander said there was a “clear need” to investigate parts of the incident.

He states that the police did obtain phone records that at least indicated others had prior knowledge of the home invasion, but didn’t act on this information.

In the recording, Mander said a production order had been used during the earlier investigation to access an individual’s phone records.

He told Blomfield police “didn’t really do a very good job of examining the data it produced”.

Mander said he had examined the phone traffic and seen contact the days before, the day of and the day after the assault which needed further investigation.

Blomfield claims that Slater knew about the attack and thinks the police should have south information from him (he doesn’t allege that Slater was directly involved).

Blomfield said he believed there was reason for police to speak with Slater in relation to the attack and had previously provided information which should have been acted on.

He said a comment made by Slater in the High Court precinct at Auckland, prior to a June 2016 judicial settlement conference, suggested Slater had knowledge as to where Paraha had obtained the shotgun used in the attack.

Blomfield said it was confirmation Slater had received information about the attack and the email was passed to police. He received a response saying: “Your email is noted and has been added to the file.”

A file that seems to have had more cobwebs than police attention.

Blomfield said he since received information anonymously from someone describing themselves as the hacker Rawshark, the identity used by the person who hacked Slater’s computer in 2014 then passed the contents to journalist Nicky Hager. The hacked material was used as the basis for the book Dirty Politics.

He said the information provided to him – which matches information supplied to and printed by the Herald in 2014 – gave him cause for concern over Slater’s attitude towards him.

The Rawshark files included social media correspondence between Slater and contacts developed through the blog. Some of the content from late 2013 reflected the defamation action was placing Slater under increased pressure.

In other messages in November 2013, Slater told the contact he believed gang members were looking for Blomfield in relation to money owed on behalf of a family member. It is unknown if there was any basis for this belief.

In the message, Slater says: “they are now looking for him … I know where he is and where he works if they want to find him … name is Matthew Blomfield”.

In another message, previously unreported, Slater tells the same contact: “Can you find out who wants to bash blomfield … I can help them find him.”

Slater has testified since he embellished claims made in conversations obtained by Rawshark. There is no evidence in the Rawshark material Slater’s conversation turned into actions in the real world.

The month after the messages, on December 14 2013, Slater posted to his blog a copy of a district court decision from the defamation case which included a cover letter with Blomfield’s home address.

In a blog post which has since been deleted, the blog’s administrator wrote: “I wouldn’t want to be Mr Blomfield for the next 10 years. The other side of Karma is coming.”

It seems that Karma has been catching up on Slater, with a series of losses in defamation proceedings, bankruptcy and a stroke (a common cause being stress).

Blomfield has said he believed the attack was somehow connected to the Whaleoil blog posts, although is definite in saying there is no evidence directly linking it to Slater.

On the Whaleoil blog, Slater has rejected any connection between his website and the attack. In a post, since deleted, he pointed to Paraha’s gang connections and said he doubted any of his readers mixed in such circles.

It was claimed in a comment here on Your NZ last October that gang members were present outside the court on the day of a hearing  on the Blomfield v Slater defamation. A name other than Slater’s (but in his circle) was associated with this.

Blomfield told the Herald there were lines of inquiry police should have pursue in relation to most complaints, yet did not.

He said the home invasion in 2014, during which he was shot at least two times, was never properly investigated.

“Someone sent this guy to do this.” Blomfield said the delay in the investigation meant evidence would have decayed. “It now seems that (information) is going to be lost.”

He said there was no sensible reason for a Tribesman-affiliated gang member from Manukau, to whom he had no links or connection, to come to his Greenhithe home firing a loaded shotgun.

“It would be totally reasonable to ask the Police why it is taking so long and when that investigation will be completed.”

But Blomfield and his lawyer claims that the police have continued to do little to investigate.

Barrister Felix Geiringer, who was Blomfield’s lawyer in the defamation case, said the lack of action by police was shocking yet even more so given the police review appeared to show an officer had acted in a way which prevented a proper investigation taking place.

He said the home invasion offending was criminal behaviour at the most serious end of the scale and it was “terrifying” police could “so easily decide not to take basic investigative steps”.

Geiringer said there was a clear lack of urgency which included delays with the fresh investigation.

“Six months after informing Matt that they had never properly investigated the attempt on his life, a newly appointed investigator informed Matt that he had not yet read the file.

“Over 18 months later, and the Police have still not decided what further action, if any, they intend to take.

“Matt and his family have never felt safe since the attack. They don’t feel that the New Zealand police have any interest in protecting them. Who could blame them?”

I for one can’t blame them. I was dragged into this long running feud and attacks via blog posts and the courts.

I have had what could be construed as implied death threats. I have had my address and photo of my home posted on a website that ran a series of attacks on me, and incorrectly linked me with Blomfield. I believe that people in Slater’s circle of associates were involved (they and Slater were definitely involved in vexatious legal actions against me).

Emails on the court file show the meeting, with former business associates of Blomfield, saw discussion focused on targeting Blomfield in a scheme called “Operation Bumslide”.

In the chain of emails between the conspirators, there was a joke about Blomfield being raped and one in which an associate of Slater’s made disparaging sexual remarks about Blomfield’s wife.

So far Slater has borne the brunt of Blomfield’s fight back via the defamation, and he is the only one named in Fisher’s article.

The impression I get from this latest ‘big read’ from Fisher is that Slater may be able to help the police with their inquiries, if they ever make proper inquiries. Perhaps ‘an associate of Slater’s’ (or more) could also warrant some investigation. So far they have managed to leave Slater to cop most of the fallout. It looks to me like Slater may have been used as a ‘useful idiot’ in what started as a business feud against Blomfield.

Things can hardly get much worse for Slater, but others who have so far escaped being held to account may find things getting awkward for them if the police start doing their job properly.

Sharia, Canon, New Zealand law

There is a lack of understanding and a lot of misinformation about Islam and Sharia law.

Some Muslim countries have awful (to me) legal systems and practices. So do some Christian based countries, and also countries not associated with a specific religion, like China and Russia – see Insulting Putin May Now Land You in Jail Under a New Russian Law.

New Zealand lawyer Felix Geiringer (who studied Sharia at University and has worked as a lawyer in the field of Islamic finance) has written An attempt at demystifying Sharia.

Sharia is a legal system which seeks to extend the religious principles of Islam into a legal structure applicable to daily life.  You could think of it as the Islamic counterpart to Judaism’s Halakha or Catholicism’s Canon Law.  However, there are differences between them.

Catholicism has a well-defined hierarchy, and senior office holders have the power to make law.  Sharia doesn’t work that way.  I’ve also heard it said that Sharia and Halakha seek to extend into every part of a devotee’s life in a way that Canon does not.   There are also significant differences between Sharia and Halakha, but that seems to be a particularly controversial topic and I do not address it here.

Sharia law is mostly derived by analogy from the two foundation texts: the Quran (God’s revelations to Muhammad) and the Sunnah (a record of Muhammad’s life).

Like common law judges, there are people in the Islamic world who are respected as being able to apply this reasoning and make decisions on new issues as they arise.  And, like the common law, there is scope for different people to reach different conclusions.  The decisions such people reach can have authoritative weight outside of the issues before them – more so if a consensus has arisen between multiple such decisions from different jurists.

There are acts of violence described in the foundation texts which are antithetical to modern civilised society – just like there are in the Bible.  But, also just like the Bible, there are many passages extolling virtues like love and kindness, and urging people to look after their neighbours and those less fortunate than them.

Supporters of Islam often promote the “love and kindness” parts (this had been prevalent in New Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks). Opponents of Islam promote “acts of violence described in the foundation texts” (while ignoring similar in Christian foundation texts).

Modern Muslims living in accordance with Sharia derive workable rules for living in the modern world from fundamental principles taken from the foundation texts.  Modern Muslims do not think Sharia requires them to pretend it is still the 7th Century in the same way that modern Christians do not kill all people who work on Sundays (Exodus 35:2).

There are Islamic states that have, for example, criminal justice systems that do not conform to New Zealand’s standards of fairness or proportionality.  They implement those systems in the name of Sharia. Yet, there are other people who consider themselves devout Muslims and who argue that that is a misapplication of Sharia.

Remember that there are about 1.8 billion Muslims in many countries around the world, living under a wide variety of legal systems. Some are not as good as others.

In Islamic finance, I dealt, in particular, with two fundamental principles: the prohibition of usury; and the prohibition of gambling.

That is usury in its original meaning – charging interest.  You know, the thing that annoyed Jesus so much he drove everyone out of a Temple with whips.  Despite Jesus’ low opinion of money lenders, usury in the Christian world went from prohibiting any interest, to prohibiting too much interest, to payday lenders advertising on television.

Equally, the problems with gambling are well known in our society.  At one end, it persuades some of our least well paid to put everything they earn into pokies.  At the other, it crashed the world economy in 2007.

Islamic finance finds ways to allow financing that depend on neither interest nor speculation.  It is a difficult, but not impossible, task.  The financing structures that are created are, at the least, useful alternatives to mainstream finance.  For example, contracts have been devised which enable someone to buy a house without unaffordable mortgage payments by instead sharing the house value growth.

That sounds similar to shared equity type mortgages that have been proposed in New Zealand recently to try to overcome the difficulties of buying a first property here.

Should we fear the arrival of Sharia?  Actually, it is already here and has been for a very long time.  It will have arrived with the first Muslims to settle here in the middle of the 19thCentury.  It is still here with those who chose to arrange their affairs in accordance with it.  Just like there are people in New Zealand who follow Halakha or Canon.

What about Sharia becoming part of the mainstream law of New Zealand?  Again, arguably it already is to at least a limited extent.  In recognising the applicability of principles of tikanga, our courts have noted that the common law method has always taken account of the common traditions of subcultures within society.   I am not aware of a case that has done this, but, notwithstanding the relative importance of tikanga to New Zealand, I would expect that weight would also be given to Sharia in a case that appropriately raised it.

That won’t include applying the most brutal examples of Sharia law to the Christchurch terrorist, as some people have suggested. He is likely to have to contemplate his crimes (alleged to have committed 50 murders and 42 attempted murders) for the rest of his life in a confined space, possibly alone to protect him.

While there is plenty of room to improve, I would also argue that our general laws, public institutions, and major private institutions, have been steadily moving away from an assumption that we are all Pakeha Christians.  Gradually our laws have been shifting to ones that seek to genuinely accommodate people of all cultural backgrounds, including Islam.

As they should in a multi-cultural multi religion secular society.

No doubt there are people who think that (their interpretation of) Sharia should be universally imposed, just as there will be people who think that way about Halakha and Canon and many other ideologies.

…Muslims are no different to the rest of us.  The vast majority either just want to be left alone or are happy to argue for the social changes they believe in through our political process.

I presume that most Muslims are similar to most non-Muslims in New Zealand, wanting to avoid having to do with criminal law.

In 2008, the then Archbishop of Canterbury gave a speech about how this inclusion of parts of Sharia in our mainstream legal structures was a good thing.  This was for two reasons.  First, Muslims in our society would be grateful of the availability of Sharia compliant alternatives that allow them to both follow their faith and fully participate in society.

And secondly, the rest of us might find that some of those Sharia compliant alternatives are good alternatives for us regardless of our faith (bring on more availability of interest free home loans!).

Or at least different mortgage structures to enable more people to buy their own houses.

It is a cheap (but frighteningly ubiquitous) trick for people to compare the best of their preferred system with the worst of someone else’s.

There will be some hard core Muslims and some hard core Christians who will probably always do this, though in New Zealand over the past week Christians, Muslims and other people of other religions have been coming together promoting the best of their faiths.

The truth, of course, is that the world is diverse.  Islam is no more inherently bad than Christianity.

There are plenty of examples of bad practitioners of Islam and bad practitioners of Christianity (and non religious bad practitioners), but the vast majority of religious and non religious practitioners want peace and harmony in their lives, and understand that this means living alongside 9and sometimes with) people with different faiths and practices.

I am not advocating for New Zealand to become an Islamic state, far from it.

No one is seriously advocating that. The only suggestions of that possibility are from scaremongerers.

New Zealand must remain a free and democratic country. But an essential component of that is pluralism.  We need not fear people expressing views merely because those views are drawn from Sharia.  Indeed, there are fundamental principles of Sharia to which we would all relate.

There’s a lot of overlap between fundamental principles of Sharia and fundamental principles of Canon and Halakha.

We should look for the best of that, and not fear the worst.




Geiringer on National’s gang ‘crack down’ policy

Yesterday Paula Bennett, the current Minister of Police, announced new policy that would ‘crack down on gangs and drugs’ – see National’s gang and drugs policy.

The most contentious parts of this policy:

  • Giving Police new power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members at any time to ensure they don’t have firearms through new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
  • Imposing new obligations on gang members on a benefit so that if they can’t justify expensive assets, they can have their benefit cancelled or be declined a benefit

Bennett conceded it would reduce the human rights of ‘criminals’ – at the search stage they have not been convicted.

@BarristerNZ (Felix Geiringer) tweeted:

A Twitter rant about human rights, & how human rights law does not interfere with the legitimate conduct of police investigations.

Human rights law merely sets a minimum standard of State behaviour that must be afforded to all so we live in a free & democratic society.

Human rights law does not exempt anyone from our criminal laws. It is not even a guarantee of good treatment.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act does not guarantee freedom from being searched, just from being unreasonably searched.

Our State isn’t prohibited from discriminating on the basis someone commits crimes, only on grounds like sex, race, religion, disability.

Powers to search usually require reasonable grounds –basically info that means it’s reasonable to think thing being searched for is there.

Limitations on our rights are also permitted so long as they are demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

Justifiable limitations need to be for a legitimate purpose, rationally connected to achieving that purpose, and proportionate.

National saying it will deny human rights to worst criminals is appealing to our basest instincts, but it doesn’t make policing sense.

It means conducting searches when a reasonable assessment of the information the Police holds gives no basis to justify such a search.

It means conducting a series of searches when that targets people on grounds of sex, sexuality, race, or religion, not just criminality.

It means conducting unreasonable searches, and doing so in a way that doesn’t reduce crime, or achieves little while intruding lots. In other words, it may legalise bad policing but does nothing to extend the powers of police doing good work to reduce crime.

Human rights are a collective, not just individual, good. We all benefit from their protection, & from the society they create.

But human rights law only works in this way if it is universal and inalienable. Don’t let National tell you otherwise.

Police can already search any place or vehicle w/o a warrant w reasonable grounds to suspect there’s a firearm in breach of the Arms Act or a lawful firearm used in serious crime, that a deranged person may use to hurt someone, possessed by subject of a protection order possessed by someone against whom there are grounds for a protection order, or that is evidence of serious crime or Arms Act breach.

If police have reasonable grounds to suspect a crime & reasonable grounds to believe there is evidence they can get a warrant. But also in many drugs cases, if they think the evidence may get destroyed while they wait for a warrant they can go ahead & search without one.

These are all powers that already exist. The suggestion that the police are somehow hamstrung in gang drugs & guns cases is fiction.


Criminal Cases Review Commission

Felix Geiringer @BarristerNZ

The system that let #Pora down is the same system we have in place today. NZ needs a Criminal Cases Review Commission. #NZCCRC

I agree. It needs to be independent of the Police, who have proven too often that they protect their own mistakes too often. They cost Pora twenty years of his life with not only a false conviction but by protecting that conviction rather than supporting fair justice.

This has been talked about for some time.

Stuff last year: Miscarriages of justice targeted by NZ academics, lawyers

A decade ago, a retired High Court judge, Sir Thomas Thorp, argued that New Zealand needs a body similar to the UK’s Criminal Cases Review Commission, created in the wake of such high-profile injustices as the case of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. Working off British examples, Thorp estimated that there are likely to be 20 innocent people in New Zealand jails at any one time.

The Ministry of Justice didn’t take up Thorp’s recommendation then and it hasn’t picked up similar recommendations since. Unsurprisingly, the ministry was sceptical about whether Thorp’s 20 innocent people was even an accurate guess.

Former National MP Richard Worth proposed a members bill to create such a body in 2007 but the ministry recommended that the Labour Government of the day not adopt it.

More recently, the National Government position is that the current system works just fine.

This week, Justice Minister Amy Adams repeated her reassurance in a statement to The Press: “The recent cases show the system is already capable of correcting miscarriages of justice when they occur, either through appeals (sometimes many years later) or through the Royal Prerogative of Mercy process when appeals have been exhausted.”

Is it working fine?

No it isn’t in too many cases, especially where police and the justice system seem to actively resist putting right major wrongs.

The Equal Justice project:

The UK CCRC is an independent body that has the power to refer cases to appellate level courts, which occurs when the commission determines that there is a “real possibility” that such a court would either quash a conviction or modify a sentence. Such a body operating in New Zealand would aid in addressing the multitude of factors in the criminal justice process that contribute to wrongful convictions, helping review and resolve cases where justice has not been achieved. It would act as a safety valve to ensure that the outcomes of the criminal justice system are fair.

Whilst comprised of many distinguished and influential individuals, the NZPP is an unofficial body. This means that unlike the CCRC, the NZPIP does not have the power to refer a case back to an appellate court by means of a statutory mechanism. They are however able to make applications to appeal courts. Whilst this does create something of a safety valve, it means that the NZPIP’s investigations have less of an immediate impact on individual cases than that of an official review commission.

Nevertheless, the foundation of a group like the NZPIP is a first step towards establishing a parliament-mandated independent review commission. The NZPIP is also essential to ensuring that those who believe they are subject to a miscarriage of justice are able to challenge their conviction without having to rely on the extremely limited public funding for such appeals.

From the New Zealand Police Conduct Association: Criminal Cases Review Commission


It works in other countries and if you look at the David Bain case, the Teina Pora case, the Peter Ellis and Scott Watson cases, just to name a few;  you will already know we need one. I only mention these high profile cases because most of you would have heard of them, I have no doubt there are many more.

A Criminal Cases Review Commission would be a non-departmental, public body.  The Commission would aim to investigate possible miscarriages of justice.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission would not only look at serious matters such as rape and murder, it would also look into minor convictions.  The convictions of anyone who claimed to be innocent.  That being said, there would be a screening process that would weed out the less/not  genuine cases.

People assisting the commission or assisting citizens with their applications to the Commission could be people who have the experience of being wrongfully convicted and have used such a process or be lawyers or family.  A citizen could apply to the Commission directly or use a lawyer.  Lawyers would be able to get Legal Aid for their assistance as they do in other countries.

It is time New Zealand had one – recently a lot of evidence has  been aired in the media that points to Teina Pora being innocent, yet he sits in jail still.  He has already served 20 years for a rape and murder he clearly didn’t commit.

How do the police end up prosecuting a man who didn’t even know where his victims home was and who had no history of these offences?

How did the courts find this innocent man, guilty?

This is not Justice!  Our Justice system is not one we have any reason to be proud of.


Geiringer on Slater’s diversion

Felix Geiringer @BarristerNZ

  1.  Before offering diversion, the Police MUST consult the victim. In this case they did not even tell the victim there had been an arrest.
  2. Reparation is one of the two primary purposes of the scheme. In this case, Slater was not required to do anything by way of reparation.
  3. Diversion is generally only offered to first time offenders but
  4. Diversion is only offered for minor offending. In Hager case, Manukau District Manager described offences under this section as serious.
  5. To qualify, Slater had to admit responsibility and show remorse. His media statement claims he has never done so and still does not.
  6. Diversion is “unlikely to be appropriate” where the “offender refuses to identify co-offenders”. Who was Slater’s mysterious “funder”?
  7. Diversion is “unlikely to be appropriate” where offender was the organiser. Eg, the offender was soliciting others to commit crime.

I’ve run out of steam. There are probably more.

Geiringer will be very familiar with the Hager case as he has represented Hager.

Hager on Westpac

Nicky Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer has issued a media release on Westpac handing over Hager’s banking data to the police.

Since then:

Westpac “modifying” policy so request process is clearer for both Police and staff after furore over release of Nicky Hager’s account data

Hager’s media release:

Privacy breach by Westpac

News release on behalf of Nicky Hager concerning privacy breach by Westpac

Several people, including news media, have been seeking comment from Nicky Hager and his legal team about the revelation on the weekend that Westpac Bank gave the Police his private banking information (including over 10 months of his banking transactions from all of his accounts).

It is difficult for Mr Hager to comment at this time. The part of his claim that deals with the legality of these Police information requests was deferred during the first hearing and has not yet been argued. However, Mr Hager is keen to clarify the position and answer the public’s questions as much as he is able.

Until this weekend, Mr Hager only knew about the privacy breach by Westpac through court discovery. Documents provided through discovery are not allowed to be used for any other purpose until they are relied on in open Court. Since this part of Mr Hager’s case has not yet been argued, he has not been able to make use of his knowledge of this breach, not even to raise the matter with Westpac or the Privacy Commissioner.

Mr Hager had also requested documents from the Police under the Official Information Act and the Privacy Act. Had he been provided with documents under those Acts he would have been able to use them to take this matter further. However, the Police have not been willing to provide the documents under those Acts. Indeed, the Police have refused even to acknowledge the existence of correspondence with Westpac under those Acts. This is despite Mr Hager expressly asking the Police to list all of the documents they were wholly withholding under those Acts.

Mr Hager has complained to the Privacy Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman about the Police failure to respond fully to his requests for documents. Representatives of both of those organisations have met with Mr Hager’s lawyers and have been liaising with Police over these complaints.

Now that the fact of this breach of privacy has been made public, Mr Hager intends to seek a full and frank disclosure of the extent of the breach from Westpac. He looks forward to receiving Westpac’s response to that request and will be considering his options to take this matter further.

Mr Hager is very concerned by this breach. His case before the High Court includes a claim against the Police under the Bill of Rights Act for seeking and obtaining that information without a production order. He fully intends to explore all options open to him now that he is free to do so.

In the circumstances, neither Mr Hager nor his lawyers are able to give interviews on this topic at this time. However, it is hoped that we will be free to do so in the future.

Note that it has been referred to as a privacy breach.

Clarification  from Westpac, from all banks on their polices, and from the Privacy Commission would be helpful.

Missy commented on this:

With regards to Hager it would have to be established if he is a journalist or not, and despite him and his fanbase calling him a journalist I wouldn’t think he would meet the criteria of being a journalist, I see him as an author, though I am not a lawyer, and don’t know what the legal distinctions are, so I could be wrong, however, if I remember correctly David Fisher was ruled to be an author when it related to his book, not a journalist, so there could be something in that.

On taniwha it’s it’s it’s…difficult to comment diplomatically

Reporting from the Maori Council statement at the Waitangi Tribunal.

Taniwha proof of Maori water rights

Mr Geiringer said hapu and iwi which spoke at the hearing had clearly shown that the relationship they had with their water in 1840 and since was akin to the modern English concept of ownership.

“Hapu have had in 1840 a relationship for which the closest cultural equivalent within modern English concepts is one of ownership – of full-blown property rights. What I’m going to ask you to find is that one at least it seems highly likely that the same could be said of every hapu and every water resource throughout Aotearoa.”

He said Pakeha scoffed at the concept of taniwha because they did not understand it.

However, the Maori belief that taniwha were the guardians of their waterways giving them exclusive use of that water was evidence that Maori believed they ‘owned’ the water in modern English terms.

“People say ‘in this resource is my taniwha, my guardian spirit. He protects me, he protects my water resource. He’s not your taniwha so if you are going to use that resource without my permission, he will do terrible things to you’.

Phew, what can one say apart from “I think this makes Key’s option of ignoring a bit easier”.

Ok, I can saymore, but just as well I can’t comment at The Standard at the moment, any perceived slight on anything Maori can get a hammering there. Nevertheless I’ll try and keep it diplomatic.

I can understand that there may have been widespread belief in taniwha in 1840. But we are living in 2012, 172 years later. Most Maori will now be either Christian or non-religious.

If Maori claims want to be taken seriously they have to get serious. I don’t know if they really deeply feel they are right about taniwha based rights, or they are trying it on, knowing that criticism of Maori culture is often severely frowned on.

But I’ll stand up and call this as I see it. We have to put a stop to this mumbo jumbo coercion. This is a taniwha too far.

Note: In the same news report from NZH it says that the Maori Council counsel has had a severe cut to his fees. On the surface this seems very unfair to the claimants.