Bridges versus Ardern: “in hot pursuit of murderers”

A shock in question time in Parliament – while grilling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges appeared to think on his feet and ask an off-the-cuff non-scripted question. It even raised a few laughs across the house.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why will union representatives not be required to gain consent from an employer before entering the premises of their workplace when even a police officer has to ask a judge for a warrant?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I pointed out in my last answer, if there are health and safety obligations that require them to do so, then they would. Again, I come back to this issue that these are changes that existed, in many cases in this omnibus bill, right up until 2015. These are changes that allow employees to have a voice, to be well represented in the workplace, and I’m surprised that the member considers that this is going to have such a dire impact on the economy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Using the member’s previous question, does a policeman in hot pursuit of a highly suspected murderer inside an office situation have to spend all the time to go and ask a judge for a warrant to pick that person up?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I had called order before, but I think we’ll just leave it there.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can the Minister confirm that we are giving unions the powers that we give police officers when they’re in hot pursuit of murderers?

While Ardern avoided answering that directly, apparently not.

Draft transcript:


1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: When she was asked whether proposed employment law changes would allow a union representative to enter the property of a business without the business’ permission, does she stand by her answer “only if the person in question they are visiting is a member of the union.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m glad the member’s asked that question again; it gives me a chance to clarify. The example that he gave related to farmhouses, and I know that section 19 of the Act and the proposal that is included in this bill specifically precludes going into a dwelling, which means that the example that the member used would not have been accurate. So thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can she confirm that the Government’s changes actually give the power to union representatives to enter the premises of a business without their permission, even if there are no union members on site, so that unions can recruit new members or distribute the union information?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The first principle I want to point out is that this legislation that is before Parliament at present, essentially, brings back employment legislation that existed right up until 2015 in some cases, and I have to say that unless the member is now saying that there was a dire economic situation for the six years his Government was last in as a consequence of that legislation, then that’s for him to argue. We personally do not believe that this is the case with these changes. To come back to the question that the member raised, for the purposes of perhaps signing up directly a union member, which is quite a specific circumstance, then that would be the case. But, again, I point out that section 21 of the Act means that the union official has to comply with all reasonable health and safety and security procedures and must access the workplace in a reasonable way, having regard to normal business operations in the workplace. There are plenty of protections in place.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has she seen comments by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety in relation to her answers in the House last week: “If the National Party really wanted to debate the detail of the bill, they would be asking me questions, because it is my responsibility to understand the detail of this legislation. They should be talking to me, not trying to catch the Prime Minister off guard.”, and, if so, does she agree with her Minister that she was caught off guard?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I know the point that the Minister was making was that if this was such a significant issue for the economy, why has the spokesperson not asked the Minister directly about this issue?

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she think it’s her responsibility to know the detail of a policy that business says is their number one concern with her Government?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As much as it is the Opposition leader’s responsibility to know that a union official can’t enter a farmhouse.

Hon Simon Bridges: To be really clear: can the Prime Minister confirm that under the Government’s proposed employment law changes, a union representative will be able to enter the premises of a business without permission from that business?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The person in question has to comply with the rules and obligations of that workplace, including the health and safety obligations. So if that means reporting in at the gate because there are health and safety obligations, then they must comply with that law.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why will union representatives not be required to gain consent from an employer before entering the premises of their workplace when even a police officer has to ask a judge for a warrant?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I pointed out in my last answer, if there are health and safety obligations that require them to do so, then they would. Again, I come back to this issue that these are changes that existed, in many cases in this omnibus bill, right up until 2015. These are changes that allow employees to have a voice, to be well represented in the workplace, and I’m surprised that the member considers that this is going to have such a dire impact on the economy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Using the member’s previous question, does a policeman in hot pursuit of a highly suspected murderer inside an office situation have to spend all the time to go and ask a judge for a warrant to pick that person up?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I had called order before, but I think we’ll just leave it there.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can the Minister confirm that we are giving unions the powers that we give police officers when they’re in hot pursuit of murderers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The point that the Deputy Prime Minister was making was that the member is being alarmist and dramatic.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can she confirm that under the Government’s proposed employment law changes, businesses owners will now have to pay workers for time spent undertaking union activities?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, in the same way that they have to, under the legislation, also allow them to have rest and meal breaks.

Hon Simon Bridges: So, to be clear, can she confirm that under the Government’s proposed employment law changes, businesses will now be responsible for funding union activities while workers should otherwise be doing their job?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would encourage the member to have a long conversation with the likes of Air New Zealand, where, through their framework of working collectively with their employees, they have improved the productivity, the health and safety, and they have a high-performance workplace. Unlike the member, I don’t believe that excluding employees is the way to become a productive company in a productive country.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will the law changes make private businesses responsible for undertaking and funding union membership drives?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I say, this is legislation that existed under the last Government, and at that point—unless they’re starting to argue that under the first six years of their reign the economy tanked, they might want to change to a new line of questioning, because we on this side of the House believe it’s possible to empower employees to have a voice in the workplace and it won’t endanger business or the economy.

Haumaha contacted witness of alleged bullying

The Herald continues their pressure on the the appointment of Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, this time revealing that Haumaha contacted a police officer who witnessed alleged bullying while the Herald were investigating over the last few weeks.

NZH: Police to investigate why Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha phoned a staff member about alleged bullying ahead of Herald story

Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha contacted a key witness to an alleged bullying incident after the Herald asked questions about accusations by three women working on a joint justice project.

The witness is a senior police officer who intervened in a heated exchange between Haumaha and one of the three women from Justice and Corrections who refused to work inside Police National Headquarters because of Haumaha’s alleged behaviour towards them.

One of the three women who walked out of police headquarters — and says one alleged incident was witnessed by the police officer whom Haumaha contacted last week — now plans to make a formal complaint about Haumaha’s alleged behavior.

The Herald can now reveal Haumaha allegedly called the lower ranking officer, who previously worked directly for him in the Māori Pacific and Ethnic Services division, one night last week to ask for his support.

This was several days before the Herald published the allegations.

The officer reported the conversation with Haumaha to his district commander who in turn alerted senior leadership in Police National Headquarters.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said his executive team was made aware on Friday of contact between Haumaha and a staff member in relation to bullying allegations.

“This will be investigated and we are currently seeking further information about what has occurred to determine what steps are required,” said Bush.

“The Police Executive, including Deputy Commissioner Haumaha, recognise the need to ensure that there is an appropriate level of independence to any investigation of all the matters raised in the media recently, including this most recent allegation.”

The new investigation comes as a government inquiry by Mary Scholtens QC will review the recruitment process which led to Haumaha being appointed as the deputy police commissioner in June.

The Herald has been all over this for weeks now. There must be concerns within the police given the information the Herald are getting to report on.

Due process needs to be followed, but looking like a growing problem for both the Police and the Government.

Poll shows public support of police pursuits

Public opinion probably shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether the police pursue fleeing drivers or not, but a poll shows large support for the police.

“Do you think police pursuits in New Zealand should be banned?”

  • Yes – 12%
  • No – 82%

1 News: Most Kiwis want police to continue chasing fleeing drivers – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll

A record 13 people were killed in police pursuits last year, with at least eight deaths so far this year.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said he thinks pursuits are “a pragmatic approach to policing”.

“When 59 per cent of pursuits are abandoned I do think that is the police taking a very responsible attitude towards this”.

National’s police spokesperson Chris Bishop said, “Obviously your heart goes out to them and their families, but you do have to send a message.”

But critics say the risk of pursuits outweighs the reason and far too many people are being killed.

The number of police pursuits have shot up by 64 per cent in the last six years, and the Independent Police Conduct Authority is reviewing current policy, despite there having been six reviews and 12 new versions of the policy in recent years.

I don’t think that pursuits should be banned altogether, but it is difficult getting the balance right between apprehending criminals or suspected offenders and public safety.

Police have to make quick decisions on whether to pursue or not, trying to assess the possible reaction of the driver and the risks involved.

There have been many re-examinations of police pursuit policy.

Policy review from 2010:New Zealand Police Pursuits Policy Review (PDF, 588KB)

There is a lot of information in response to an OIA here: Police pursuit policy and statistics

Stuff (March 2018) – Police chases: Fleeing drivers must ‘take more responsibility’, police say

A car fleeing police on Sunday morning crashed head-on into an oncoming vehicle near Nelson, leaving both occupants of the fleeing vehicle and the sole occupant of another car – uninvolved in the chase – dead.

Such incidents have increased in number from fewer than 2500 a year in 2012 to 3797 in 2017, according to a police report. The number of deaths during fleeing driver events have increased from two in 2014 to 10 (from nine events) in 2017.

Police assistant commissioner for road policing Sandra Venables said fleeing drivers needed to take more responsibility.

“He or she has to take more responsibility and make better decisions. We would hope people would just realise it’s better to stop and talk to the police officer,” she said.

“We [police] have to strike a balance between the responsibility to protect life and the duty to enforce the law, but it’s really up to the driver in these pursuits.”

Police never took pursuits with fleeing drivers lightly, Venables said.

“It’s one of those quick judgement calls police make every day to keep the public safe and uphold the law,” she said.

“On a number of occasions in the pursuits, we’ve found many of them can be stolen vehicles . . . there’s many reasons, and its always a constant balancing act.”

A difficult balancing act for the police.

 

New appointment to head Haumaha inquiry

For some reason this isn’t on the Beehive media release website, but the Minister of Internal Affairs announced a new appointment of Mary Scholtens to head inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha.

@cjsbishop:

Good to see Govt has taken our advice and appointed a highly respected independent QC for the Haumaha inquiry. Should have been case from start. Still inappropriate NZF Min Martin is the appointing Minister, terms of ref still inadequate too. And big qu’s still for Ardern/Nash.

This was announced late on Friday afternoon.

Audrey Young:  Jacinda Ardern takes charge of Wally Haumaha inquiry fiasco

A series of scoops by Herald investigative journalist Jared Savage, some astute political work by National rising star Chris Bishop and some own-goals in the Government have ensured that the issue has been kept alive.

It is a much more challenging problem for Ardern than just identifying someone suitable to find out whether the appointment panel and ministers had all relevant information – that much is known already.

It is mired in complexity and even a resignation by Haumaha, which does not appear to be imminent, would not cauterise it.

Underlying it is the public’s confidence in the police and the public’s confidence in the Government to deal with challenging issues.

It involves Ardern’s confidence in Police Minister Stuart Nash, and Nash’s confidence in the judgement of Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who sat on the panel.

There were signs of trouble at the outset when Winston Peters was dealing with it as Acting Prime Minister.

The delay was in finding a suitable reviewer who would have the confidence of the Police, Maori and feminists.

That in itself is a reflection of the identity politics that is more important in this Government configuration.

National would have quickly found a retired judge or QC, which is what Ardern did last night in getting respected QC Mary Scholtens to undertake the inquiry.

Scholtens was Counsel assisting the 2004 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, and has conducted an inquiry for the last Labour Government into how the whistle-blowing laws have operated. Scholtens is not considered a political risk at all – she is the wife of former National minister John Luxton and has worked for Governments of both hues.

Scholtens was on the list of ten names put forward to head the inquiry. It would have saved a lot of grief if she had been selected in the first place.

Police disappointed in scrapping of mental health pilot scheme

National’s spokesperson on the police, Chris Bishop, has uncovered the scrapping of a pilot project that would have added mental health expertise to front line policing.

The Government’s decision to axe a universally-supported pilot to improve the response to 111 mental health calls is nothing short of disgraceful, especially after Labour pledged to make mental health a priority, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“It has been revealed that Labour has scrapped a pilot in which a mental health nurse would attend mental health incidents alongside police and paramedics to ensure that people in distress receive timely responses that are tailored to their needs.

“Police spend around 280 hours a day responding to mental health calls. They do a good job, but are not mental health professionals so having a mental health nurse deployed to incidents with police would make a real difference.

“The increasing demand on police to respond to mental health crises is set to continue. That’s why the National Government set aside $8 million for the pilot as part of our $100 million mental health package.

“Police Minister Stuart Nash confirmed in answers to written questions the day of the Police Estimates hearing that the pilot would be canned, yet Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the hearing that police were very hopeful it would continue – in front of Mr Nash.

“Mr Nash has admitted that police are dealing with more and more mental health cases. The pilot would have eased pressure on police and improved the quality of the response for those experiencing mental distress.

RNZ: Police disappointed after mental health pilot dropped

Police officers are upset a proposal to improve 111 callouts has been dumped and mental health advocates hope it may yet be salvaged.

The former National government last year announced an $8 million pilot scheme where mental health workers would attend crisis calls along with police and ambulance staff.

The trial was due to start in September, but police headquarters said the new government had “re-allocated” the funding and so the pilot had been dropped.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said the decision was “disappointing” and officers needed practical support “sooner rather than later”.

“It’s all good to have inquiries and to have think-tanks, but people need help now. They’re crying out for it.”

Front-line officers were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of calls relating to mental health, he said.

“Police aren’t the best equipped to do this. It needs to be people in mental health services who look after them. It’s a medical issue, not a policing issue.”

Health Minister fobbed off queries.

Health Minister David Clark turned down an interview request, but in a statement said the proposal “was never fully developed” and it appeared National had cobbled it together in a hurry.

He expected the government’s mental health inquiry, announced in January, would include advice on how to improve the emergency response, he said.

How long will that take? What if that inquiry recommends the pilot project or something similar? Labour said there was a mental health crisis, but they are not acting like it is a pressing problem now.

The Mental Health Foundation…

…had been supportive of the scheme and its chief executive Shaun Robinson said it was a shame to see it fall by the wayside.

“The police have unfortunately been left to be the mental health service of last resort.”

Mr Robinson said he would be keeping a close eye on the inquiry’s findings and was hopeful it would come up with a similar or even better idea.

“We would really hope to see that there’s something significant in the crisis response area,” he said.

“It may be a short-term loss for a longer-term gain.”

Fiona Howard, from Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support in Christchurch…

…also hoped the inquiry would report back with a similar project.

She said she empathised with police frustration, but understood the government’s approach to first assess the entire mental health system.

“What I hope is that we can sort of pause – even though I know it’s hard to wait – to make sure that we get all the results from that inquiry in to make sure all parts of our system that are under stress get the resourcing and new initiatives they need.”

Reporting back with a similar project, and then implementing it, will take some time. Scrapping the pilot scheme seems very strange.

Pike River – police may re-investigate

RNZ: Police get ready to reopen Pike River investigation

The police are gearing up to reopen their investigation into the explosion at Pike River, in anticipation of the planned re-entry of the mine later this year.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers visited Greymouth last week to meet the Pike River Recovery Agency and victims’ families.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read, who led the initial inquiry into the disaster in which 29 miners died, also attended.

That investigation concluded in 2013 with no charges being laid.

The police said if re-entry was achieved they would complete their scene investigation and assess any new evidence and its impact on the original inquiry.

In a statement, a police spokesperson confirmed the officers met with the Agency on 13 June to discuss the police’s role in the planned re-entry.

“Police would have a dual role should re-entry to the drift be achieved,” the statement said.

“One involves completion of the scene examination in relation to the original police investigation. The other role involves management of any processes required on behalf of the Coroner.

“Any new evidence which is identified would be assessed to determine what, if any relevance it had on the original investigation which concluded in July 2013.”

Police said they were also considering seconding an officer to work closely, albeit remotely, with the Agency in the lead-up to the operation.

This morning:

RNZ:  Pike River families: ‘We’ve been down this road before’

Pike River families have told police they have a long way to go to rebuild trust as they prepare to reopen their investigation into the disaster.

A spokesperson for some of the Pike River families, Bernie Monk, said he was pleased the investigation would be reopened.

But he said the families still have ill-feeling towards the police because of how they walked away five years ago.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before we accept the police coming back into our lives,” Mr Monk said.

Mr Monk said the families have always considered the mine to be a crime scene.

He told Morning Report the families had sat down with the police last week to work through some of the difficulties they had had with them in the past.

Unanswered questions over Hager case

The Police gave Nicky Hager a comprehensive apology and a substantial payout after they admitted overstepping procedures and breaking the law in their investigation of Hager when they tried to find out who the hacker ‘Rawshark’ was who supplied Hager with data from Cameron Slater and his Whale oil website.

There are unanswered questions about whether ‘Rawshark’ was a sole operator or a group, whether he/she/they were hacking from the outside or whether it was an inside job (whistleblower). The police failed to find any of this out, and Hager himself claims not to know.

The police made it clear that Hager was investigated as a witness and “was not a suspect of any offending” (which made their botching of the investigation substantially more troubling).

There is a big unanswered question over why the police went to such great lengths when they have made it clear that Hager was investigated as a witness and not as a possible offender – in contrast to their investigation of another acase where Slater tried to have The Standard hacked.

Tim Watkins goes over the case and in particular asks this in More questions from the Nicky Hager case.

Slater had reported the hack to police and quite properly, the police began investigating. However, they began investigating with such vigour they broke the law and were not honest with the courts. It’s a remarkable series of events that appears to go beyond ineptitude, to something more deliberate.

In a country where victims of burglary often complain about the slow response from police and around the time that the national burglary resolution rate (2015) was a record low 9.3 per cent, it’s curious that police would expend such resources on this computer.

But most notably there were other dodgy dealings with computers in the news around the same time, as well. Dirty Politics itself revealed that Slater and National Party staffer and others had been rooting around in the back-end of the Labour Party website. Hager had alleged that one of those who had been in the site was a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office. While Police admitted in their statement yesterday that Hager “was not a suspect of any offending”, there were questions being asked at the time about the legality of that behaviour. Yet nothing so rigorous was undertaken.

Also around the same time, the victim of Rawshark’s hack – Cameraon Slater – was himself commissioning Ben Rachinger to hack The Standard website to establish whether Labour MPs and staff were anonymously writing for the Labour-aligned blog. Rachinger turned whistle blower, leading to a story by me and Lisa Owen that saw Slater finally charged with attempting to procure a hack. He admitted guilt and received diversion.

Slater had to admit guilt to qualify for diversion, but he later suggested on Whale oil that this wasn’t sincere – if so that would make it misleading the court.

I know from my work on that story and my repeated calls to police how slow they were to act on Slater’s actions.

Quite reasonably, police have pointed out that Rawshark’s actual hack (with the potential for a seven year prison sentence) was a worse offence than Slater’s attempted and failed hack (with a maximum sentence of two and a half years).

But when you consider such extensive efforts on one side (where there was serious public interest in the behaviour of people in and around government) and such reluctance to investigate on the other (where, while embarrassing, the ‘crime’ of writing anonymous blog posts was much the lesser justification for a hack), it does raise questions.

The biggest being: Why?

The next question is who: Who made the decisions to deceive the court and the third parties? Who made the decision to conduct the raid in such a way that breached his rights to journalistic privilege? Who breached the Bill of Rights by their approaches to third parties?

Who in the police was responsible, culpable, is an important question.

The dark shadow hanging over all this is political. The police investigation was into a journalist who had made serious allegations against the sitting government of the day. Those are the times when police have to be at their scrupulous best, their most transparent and their most even-handed. Yet they were not.

If the police don’t clear this up they leave a dark political shadow hanging.

At the very least the public needs clear assurances from Police bosses and the Police Ministers around that time – Anne Tolley and Michael Woodhouse – that the politics at play did not influence the investigation. Without honest and frank interviews addressing these questions, how can the public’s trust in police not be effected.

Police officials have not fully discharged their duty yet.

I agree. Perhaps the media can get some honest and frank answers from Tolley and Woodhouse.

And the police need to front up on this. Unless they do that serious questions will remain.

Geddis on why the Hager apology matters

Law professor Andrew Geddis writes on Why the police’s apology to Nicky Hager matters (this has also been published elsewhere) – apologies for a near full repost but I think is important enough to warrant it.


In the wake of the publication of Dirty Politics back in 2014, the New Zealand Police undertook multiple unlawful breaches of Nicky Hager’s privacy. They’ve now apologised for that – but the important thing is to make sure it does not ever happen again.

Nicky Hager’s book was based on material obtained from the mysteriously named “Rawshark”, who in turn almost certainly obtained it by way of a criminal computer hack. Much was made of this fact at the time, with Mr Hager accused of using “stolen” information. If interested, you can read Mr Hager’s response to that charge here (at question #5).

Irrespective of the ethics of using the material, however, it was clear that Mr Hager had committed no crime. While we still do not know who Rawshark is, no-one seriously believed it was Mr Hager himself. Equally, there was no evidence that Mr Hager colluded with Rawshark in carrying out the original, unlawful hack.

Nevertheless, if you wanted to uncover Rawshark’s identity, Mr Hager was the obvious place to start. And the New Zealand Police decided they very much wanted to find out who Rawshark was – they very, very much wanted to do so. Quite why they felt such a desperate need to determine the perpetrator of this particular crime out of all those committed daily in New Zealand remains something of a mystery, but felt it they did.

For the police embarked on a really quite remarkably terrible investigation to try and trace Rawshark through Mr Hager, which today has led them to issue a comprehensive and I am sure highly embarrassing apology (along with money damages and payment of legal costs). Here’s what they now admit they did wrong.

First of all, they went to Mr Hager’s bank – which was Westpac, if you really want to know – and asked them to please pass over 10-months-worth of Mr Hager’s financial records. Which the bank then did quite happily, despite the police having no legal right to the information. You can read what the Privacy Commissioner thought of that behaviour here (spoiler alert: he was less than impressed).

Then, without even trying to talk to Mr Hager, the police decided he was an “uncooperative witness” in their investigation. In what appears to be an action without precedent in New Zealand, they instead went to the District Court and asked for a warrant to search Mr Hager’s house and remove all papers and electronic devices that might provide them with information that could identify Rawshark.

The problem being that they failed to tell the Court their target was a journalist whose material may be subject to journalistic privilege, as it had been obtained under a promise that its source would remain confidential. The High Court subsequently found that this failure breached the police’s “duty of candour” to the courts, thus rendering the warrant unlawful. In addition, the police now admit that their warrant was overly broad in the material it sought and should have contained conditions to address the possible privilege issues.

So, the search of Mr Hager’s house and removal of his property was, the police admit, unlawful. What is more, by a remarkable coincidence the police search took place at a time when Mr Hager was in another city, meaning that it was an hour before Mr Hager was able to assert journalistic privilege over that property. Despite being alerted to that claim of privilege, the police nevertheless used photos they had taken of an email exchange and website login information to try and track Rawshark down.

Let’s just pause and recap at this point. The police admit that they misled a court by omission into giving them apparent legal authority to raid the house of not a suspect in a crime, but a witness to it. That witness, they knew, was a working journalist whose efficacy depends upon being able to assure his sources (be they law abiding saints or malefactor demons or somewhere in between) that their identity will remain confidential. And despite being alerted that there may be a legal bar on presenting in court the information they had seized, the police admit they went ahead and used some of it anyway to try and unmask their suspect.

Were this the extent of the police’s actions, they would be bad enough. But wait, for there is more. Even after conducting the raid and being told in writing by Mr Hager’s lawyers that he asserted journalistic privilege over all information that may reveal his confidential sources (such as Rawshark), the police continued to approach third parties like Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Customs and Paypal for information about Mr Hager’s activities. Some of it was sought on an informal “please tell us” basis, while some was obtained through formal production orders (which were in turn obtained from the courts without disclosing that they related to a journalist with confidential sources).

And in what is perhaps the most damning indictment of the police’s actions, they now admit that they told some of these third parties they wanted information about Mr Mr Hager because he was suspected of fraud and other criminal activities. This was what is known in legal circles as a complete and utter lie.

Hence the complete and comprehensive nature of the apology to Mr Hager from the police. As I’ve had cause to say about it in a quote that Mr Hager’s legal team included in their press release about the settlement:

The series of failures admitted by the police indicates a deeply concerning failure to both understand the legal constraints on their powers and the fundamental importance of individual rights. This comprehensive apology hopefully indicates that the message has been driven home and such behaviour will not happen in the future.

Because I accept that a political culture where individuals routinely turn to criminal activity to try and unmask their opponent’s claimed wrongdoings would be a bad one. James O’Keefe would not be a welcome fixture in our democratic process. And even criminal hypocrites like the target of Rawshark’s original hack have a general right to privacy that the law ought to protect.

So, seeking to identify and prosecute Rawshark was not in itself an unreasonable response by the police. However, turning the journalist who used the information gained through Rawshark’s actions into a virtual criminal co-conspirator from whom information will be obtained by any means necessary is completely unreasonable and dangerous to our democracy. It should never have happened, and should never happen again.

Nation: 1800 more police staff

On Newshub Nation this morning:

First up on Newshub Nation tomorrow, Police Minister Stuart Nash MP is live in studio to discuss how Labour is going to afford their promised 1800 new officers.

Another interview where when pushed on the costs of increasing police numbers the Minister says ‘wait for the budget’. They must have had an approximate idea of the costs for some time.

Cost of crime to NZ is $9.1 billion, according to a Treasury report from a few years ago, Nash says. But he won’t say how much new spending for policy until the Budget is released.

Says of the promised 1800 new officers, around 1100 will be on the front line.

First police stations to re-open will be in Northland and parts of Auckland, Nash says – he says he would like to see them be opened within six month.

Police Minister refutes Ministry of Justice figures that say 1000 extra cops will push 400 extra inmates into already overcrowded prison.

The short term effect on arrests and imprisonments is difficult to predict, so easy to argue with suggested numbers.

Nash wants to investigate gang affiliated people for benefit fraud – up to 90% of gang members are on the benefit.

“We’re going to take away the ‘sexiness’ of being in a gang”.

Nash is talking tough on gangs, but this is an approach that has kept failing in the past. What will be done differently?

Govt won’t decriminalise meth “I’ll tell you that much,” Nash says, but says meth addicts should not be treated as criminals”.

Another very difficult issue to deal with.

Generally Nash came across well, well informed and well spoken.

Police statement – Labour summer camp

Police are now investigating the allegations of sexual assault at the Labour summer camp:


Investigation commences into allegations about Young Labour summer camp

A police investigation has commenced into allegations regarding a Young Labour summer camp at Waihi in February.

The first step will be to assess information available to police to determine what is required from an investigation perspective.

The investigation will be overseen by Detective Superintendent Chris Page.

We continue to encourage anyone with information they wish to discuss with police, or matters they wish to report, to contact us.

Our priority is to ensure that anyone who wishes to speak with us can feel comfortable in doing so, and to ensure that appropriate support services are available.

We will not be publicly confirming any matters regarding those who may approach police, or complaints that may be received, to ensure that individuals can feel confident in speaking to us. We will also not discuss specific investigative steps which may be undertaken, or put a timeframe on the investigation.

Further information on NZ Police’s approach to investigating sexual assault can be found here: http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/sexual-assault