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MFAT used Thompson + Clark for security at TPP protest

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 19 April 2018
Zac Fleming, Checkpoint Producer

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade used controversial firm Thompson + Clark to provide security services for the 2016 Trans Pacific Partnership signing in Auckland.

Thompson + Clark is currently the subject of a State Services Commission investigation after allegations it spied on customers of government earthquake insurer Southern Response, and spied on Greenpeace staff for the Ministry of Business and Employment.

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The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's visits and events unit met with "the principals of Thompson + Clark Investigations" twice in the lead up to the signing of the TPP on 4 February 2016, to "discuss security planning and staffing".

But when asked for copies of correspondence between its staff and Thompson + Clark, MFAT said it couldn't find any. It said that was because "the meetings were coordinated by the event management company".

The controversial firm was hired to secure the SkyCity Convention Centre, where the TPP was signed, despite 164 specially trained police officers having been deployed to protect it.

There were around 30 officers at the centre's front doors on Federal Street on the day.

An invoice paid by MFAT and released to Checkpoint under the Official Information Act shows Thompson + Clark was paid $12,618.58 for "security services".

The bulk of that, $5855, went to paying sub-contracted security guards, $1800 went to "planning", $2700 to "Thompson + Clark Time & Attendance", and $585 for a "Management Fee".

The remainder, $32.17, was to pay for Thompson + Clark director Gavin Clark's parking two days before the signing, on 2 February.

MFAT declined to be interviewed but in a statement said:

"As part of Thompson and Clark's contract, they were responsible for arranging venue security and did so by contracting Red Badge who provided on-site security staff. The role of Police was to deal with any instances where an individual or individuals committed an offence.

"Thompson and Clark were engaged to manage various security aspects of the event in the planning stages and on the day. This involved regular meetings with venue management, responsibility of venue security arrangements, the registration and accreditation system, the access control process for delegates and support staff, developing contingency and escalation plans, and being on site on the day of the event to manage and oversee the contracted staff."

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's relationship with Thompson + Clark, which is alleged to have breached the State Services Standards of Integrity and Conduct, started after MBIE hired the firm to provide security services at a petroleum conference in 2013.


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