Nicky Hager complaint upheld – SIS acted unlawfully

The Acting Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has upheld a complaint by Nicky Hager that the SIS unlawfully attempted to uncover his journalistic sources. This was in relation to Hager’s 2011 book Other People’s Wars.

The Police had been found to have unlawfully attempted to uncover Hager’s journalistic sources when investigating the hack of Cameron Slater after Hager published Dirty Politics.

In both cases the sources were not identified.

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees, or supports or opposes, with what Hager has written about, illegally trying to out his sources (by both the SIS and the Police) should be a real concern.

At least by making successful complaints Hager has exposed the unlawful actions, which will put pressure on both the SIS and the Police to do things properly in the future.

Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer (@BarristerNZ) tweeted:

The full Report into a complaint by Nicky Hager against the NZSIS

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

For the reasons given I have found that NZSIS unlawfully provided investigative assistance to
NZDF in efforts to determine whether a specific NZDF officer had been a source for information
published in Mr Hager’s book Other People’s Wars. Specifically, NZSIS provided that assistance
despite a lack of grounds for reasonable suspicion that any activity had occurred that was a
matter of national “security” as that was defined in the governing legislation of NZSIS at the
time. I have been unable to find that the Service showed the kind of caution I consider proper,
for an intelligence agency in a free and democratic society, about launching any investigation
into a journalist’s sources.

Mr Hager’s complaint against NZSIS is therefore upheld.

To the extent that Mr Hager was the subject of NZSIS inquiries that I have found were not within
the lawful scope of NZSIS activity at the relevant time, I consider he was adversely affected by
the agency’s activities. The Service acquired two months of call metadata for Mr Hager’s home
telephone line. In the circumstances I think an apology from NZSIS to Mr Hager is an appropriate
remedy. I recommend accordingly.

There should be greater repercussions than a recommendation of an apology.

Peters admits he wouldn’t protect his source

In a bizarre series of interviews today Winston Peters has morphed from an absolute protector of his supposed source to saying he would produce them as witnesses if his challenge to Judith Collins to sue him was taken up.

On Radio NZ:

I’m trying to find out exactly what what happened, so what day did it happen on and what time of day?

Winston Peters: Oh look, I’m not going to answer a silly question like that, it did happen I can assure you of that, but I’m not going to finger people who thought they were having a confidential conversation. It’s that simple.

Did you agree to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone.

But did they ask you to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: No it was clear as daylight that they wanted it to be confidential.

With Sean Plunket on RadioLive:

Was it Simon Lusk that approached you?

Winston Peters: I can tell you that I do not intend to break any confidence on these matters.

I’m going to ask you direct, was it Simon Lusk?

Winston Peters: I’ll say it again, I’ll answer you direct, I do not intend to break confidence on these matters.

I’m going to put myself out on a limb here Mr Peters. Would you be prepared to privately give me that name on the grounds that I would not disclose it?

Winston Peters: Um well I’ve done that once before with you and you’ve kept your word, but the answer’s no because I’d be breaching confidentiality with someone else and I’m not going to do that and I’ve never done that in a long career.

So he would absolutely honourably not breach confidence.

Ok you do understand that in the absence of further information you know and I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but you know if I was Woodward and Bernstein for example I probably wouldn’t run this.

Winston Peters:Oh no no if I was Woodward and Bernstein I would take that information and work on it and sooner or later you’re going to strike pay dirt with others knowing about it, that’s what Woodward and Bernstein did in their case, they just followed the money as they were told by Deep Throat to do. In this case you follow the power.

But he’s happy encourage journalists to find out who his source is based on what he’s fed them, and that they previously knew nothing about.

On that basis I wouldn’t trust Peters to keep something confidential.  He would do enough to see that confidentiality was breached but try to avoid responsibility for discovery even though that was his intent in going public.

Later on 3 News:

Winston Peters is challenging Judith Collins to sue him for defamation over his claims she plotted against the Prime Minister.

Winston Peters: I bet she won’t, because then I will produce the witnesses.

So these sources that “I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone” would be produced and revealed after he promoted investigation of the story and if Collins sued him after he pushed her into doing so.

Trust Winston Peters?

Winston’s Dotcom visit source revealed

John Key seems to have revealed what was obvious to just about everyone except try hard Labour activists and Winston Peters – he learnt about Winston Peters visiting Kim Dotcom from Whale Oil.

So the PM just more or less admitted @Whaleoil was his source on Winston Peters’ visit to the Dotcom mansion. They speak regularly.

Whale Oil has been hinting at politicians visiting Dotcom for months and has blogged about the Peters three visits all week, so this is hardly surprising.

It was as much a revelation as the Pope suddenly discovering something that was said in the bible.

Meanwhile Rachel Glucina, the journalist who broke the story last Friday,  hints at her possible sources in her column today. First some self praise:

The Diary broke the news that Russel Norman visited the Dotcom mansion twice to talk the millionaire out of setting up a political party. This column also busted Don Brash making a visit, and Winston Peters, who dropped around three times.

Some more gossip:

Labour MP Clare Curran, who hails from the Deep South, was at Dotcom’s Coatesville estate “at least twice, and once with a large suitcase”, a source said. She caught a taxi once and was chauffeured another time. But why the baggage?

You can fit a lot of cash in a large suitcase (but that’s a Mallard type insinuation).

BAD NEWS KEEPS FOLLOWING KIM

Dotcom has endured abysmal album reviews, a botched foray into politics, a broken ankle and MP mates scarpering for cover. His bodyguard Wayne Tempero left his employ in October, and now four security men have walked off the job. They resigned last Saturday.

Dotcom is relying on the strict enforcement of confidentiality agreements to ensure former employees won’t squeal and reveal anything private.

“They resigned because they have had a better job offer,” he told The Diary.

As for Tempero, Dotcom admits he could no longer afford to pay him what he was earning. “Wayne resigned because he was getting half the pay of what he was getting two years ago and he couldn’t sustain that. He is starting his own company. We are still friends.”

“Four security men” and…

Ask John Key how he knew about Winston Peters visiting the mansion 3 times. Only 4 people knew about it & probably Ian Fletcher at the GCSB.

…is obviously a coincidence but it only takes one talkative person. Tweeted on Wednesday:

@patrickgowernz Chase the disillusioned former employees. They tend to talk.