Teapot Tape Verdict - No Charges but Taping Still Illegal
By Mark P. Williams
Today the police announced the end of the police inquiry into the so-called "Teapot Tape" of the conversation between the Prime Minister John Key and Act Party leader John Banks during the election.
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said that the police had resolved the Prime Minister's complaint. He stated that the police do not intend to prosecute Bradley Ambrose but he will be issued with a warning. He added that the decision was based on their own analysis and the advice of the Auckland Crown Solicitor.
Asst Commissioner Burgess indicated that Bradley Ambrose's 'letter of regret', sent via solicitors to the complainant, was a factor in the decision not to prosecute the charges. When the press asked for further details regarding the other factors which affected the police decision not to prosecute, he cited Mr Ambrose's previous good record.
The Assistant Commissioner was at pains to emphasise that Mr Bradley's actions were unlawful. He said that the police verdict sent a clear message that the recording and distribution of conversations that are considered private are likely to lead to prosecutions in the future. He said: 'It is unlawful to record the conversation and it is unlawful to distribute that conversation.'
Asked why the investigation took so long, Asst Commissioner Burgess said that they had to locate everybody who had been in the cafe at the time and that Christmas and New Year may have also played a role.
He denied that the Prime Minister's travel schedule played any part in the timing of his announcement.
When asked about the de facto publication of the tapes via the internet, Asst. Commissioner Burgess said that his investigation had focused on how the tape was made and how it was originally distributed.
When asked what police resources had been spent on this case Assistnt Commissioner Burgess indicated that an Official Information request would be required to disclose that information.
Asked whether the media or the Rt Hon Winston Peters would be investigated, Asst. Commissioner Burgess reiterated that the police had focussed their time on the actions of Mr Ambrose.
Finally, when asked whether they had reached a decision as to whether or not the conversation had been private, he responded that this was central to the investigation.