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Police’s investigation let GCSB off the hook

26 November 2013

Police’s investigation let GCSB off the hook

Newly released information on the police’s investigation into the GCSB’s illegal surveillance of Kim Dotcom and other New Zealanders shows the police have two different standards when investigating complaints of the interception of private communications, the Green Party said today.

The summary of the police’s investigation into the complaint laid by Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman against the Government Communication Security Bureau (GCSB) for their illegal interception of New Zealanders’ communications was today made public by Fairfax Media.

“This report highlights the police’s once-over-lightly approach when faced with investigating this serious breach of the Crimes Act, which is in stark contrast to their vigorous investigation of the same breach in the much less serious ‘teapot tape’ saga,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“The report shows that the GCSB didn’t fully cooperate with the investigation, and the police exerted little effort to try and fully investigate the complaint. They simply relied on the cooperation of GCSB staff; cooperation that was far from fulsome.

“Nearly one third of the GCSB staff that police wanted to interview were not spoken to. One of those who declined to be interviewed appears to have played a crucial role in the GCSB’s actions in this case, yet police didn’t pursue this any further despite the seriousness of this matter.

“The police also chose not to prosecute anyone, despite finding that the GCSB did illegally spy on Kim Dotcom and Bram van der Kolk.

“When you compare this to the police’s investigation into Bradley Ambrose, the cameraman who recorded the ‘teapot tape’ of Prime Minister John Key and ACT MP John Banks before the 2011 General Election, the different standard is stark. During this investigation, police seized Ambrose’s personal cellphone logs and messages without his knowledge and raided media outlets to prevent publication of the recordings.”

Both of these cases related to s216(B) of the Crimes Act, which bans the interception of private communications.

“We would like to see the police do their job in a measured, thorough, and apolitical manner, rather than what we’ve seen in these cases where they’ve either overreacted or underreacted.

“It’s interesting to reflect on the role of Prime Minister John Key in both of these investigations. John Key was the complainant against Ambrose, and we saw the police go far beyond what was necessary for what proved to be a simple mistake. John Key is the Minister responsible for the GCSB, who were found to have illegally spied on New Zealand residents yet faced minimal investigation.

“It’s a sad day when Government spies are seen as above the law and are treated differently than the New Zealand public.”

Note: The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) is currently investigating the police’s handling of Dr Norman’s initial complaint, including the decision not to prosecute anyone from the GCSB, as well as the police’s failure to investigate the additional 85 potential breaches by the GCSB and the appointment of Kristy McDonald QC to provide an independent legal review of the investigation despite her role in the police’s case against Kim Dotcom.

Copy of the police’s Executive Summary of Operation Grey: https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/operation_grey_exec_summary.pdf

ENDS

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