Security Company in Court Following Allegations
20 February 2008
Security Company in Court Following Allegations of Illegal Activities
The activities of Provision Security Ltd will be under scrutiny at the Christchurch Distric Court this Friday (22nd) following a complaint to the Registrar of Private Investigators and Security Guards that the company was acting illegally whilst operating on Mt Augustus near Solid Energy's Stockton open cast coal mine.
In 2007 Mt Augustus was the scene of protests over the removal of the entire population of a rare native snail (Powelliphanta augustus) and the destruction of its habitat by Solid Energy, with approval from the then Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter.
The Department of Conservation had created a narrow public exclusion zone on DOC land adjacent to the Mt Augustus workings and Provision Security was employed by Solid Energy to advise members of the public who approached the exclusion zone of the health and safety issues associated with blasting in the area. Provision was required to seek DOC assistance to remove anyone who failed to heed the warnings. There had never been any security breaches by protestors on Mt Augustus.
However, according to the allegations of Bruce Stuart-Menteath, the Provision security guards took the law into their own hands. He claims that when he went up the mountain to monitor great spotted kiwi outside the DOC exclusion zone, he was met by Provision security guards on the track, outside the exclusion zone, who could not identify themselves, claimed that he could go no further and attempted to escort him back down the mountain.
When he refused he claims they later searched the mountainside for his campsite and then placed it under 24 hour surveillance. When Mr Stuart-Menteath discovered this covert activity he packed up camp with the intention of finding another camp site with some privacy, but was harassed and followed through the bush by two security guards who could not provide any identification, one of whom even refused to give his name.
"I was amazed that of the four Provision Security employees I met, none of them had any identifcation at all, no proof of authority, and all of them were operating illegally on DOC land for purposes that had nothing whatsoever to do with health and safety or security. Rather, they appeared to be acting out some sort of fantasy the likes of which one reads about in Boys Own annuals"
The Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974 states that security guards are required to hold a certificate of approval and to produce it for identification to members of the public who ask for it. They are also required to have authority to operate on private or public land.
Mr Stuart-Menteath is also claiming that Provision has breached his rights under sections of the Privacy Act 1993 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Provision Security has refused a Privacy Act request from Mr Stuart-Menteath for copies of all information held by the company regarding the incidents. The company directors, Gavin Clark and Nicholas Thompson, also operate Thompson and Clark Investigations Ltd, which in 2007 used a spy to infiltrate the Save Happy Valley Coalition and is presently the subject of a hearing into a complaint about that matter.
The hearing will be at the Christchurch District Court 10 am Friday 22nd February