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Undercover agent fiasco strengthens inquiry call

21 December 2008

Undercover agent court fiasco strengthens call for inquiry - Greens

Green MP Keith Locke says a police infiltrator's disruption of an anti-GE protester's court case against the Police reinforces the case for an independent Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the Police Special Investigation Group.

A Sunday paper today revealed that Police informer Rob Gilchrist had appeared in court as a witness for Simon Oosterman in his case against the Police for pepper-spraying him during an anti-GE protest in Rotorua in 2005. This year Mr Oosterman won the case, but was disappointed the judge only awarded $5000 against the Police. He believes his case may have been weakened by fellow protester and undercover police agent Rob Gilchrist giving exaggerated evidence, and turning up to court in a T-shirt with a gun on it, and a slogan: "This is my Glock, her name is Susan, there are many like her, but she is mine."

"It undermines the integrity of the legal system when Police get their protest group infiltrator to present evidence for the prosecution against the Police and do it in such a provocative way as to actually help the Police defence," said Mr Locke, Green Party Police spokesperson.

"This is another reason why we must have an independent Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the Special Investigation Group since it was set up in 2004.

"On Friday, I sent a letter to Prime Minister John Key, calling for such an inquiry, after discovering that Mr Gilchrist has been spying on the Green MPs - by visiting the Greens Parliamentary office, having himself put on the MPs' database to receive information, and forwarding to the SIG several emails sent from the Green Parliamentary office.

"In that letter I said such spying on the Green MPs was 'so serious and has so many ramifications for our parliamentary democracy, as to itself merit a full independent Commission of Inquiry. It is not a matter simply for the Independent Police Conduct Authority to deal with. There are grave constitutional ramifications if the Police, as a law enforcement arm of the executive, are spying on another Parliamentary political party, and in effect acting as a political agent of the executive.'

"The letter continued: 'The activities of Mr Gilchrist also raise the whole question of protocols around the authorisation of infiltrators into organisations, and whether a mandate should be given for such infiltration to extend beyond organised criminal groups and into legitimate political groups. The implications of executive infiltration into political groups are a serious threat to our civil and political rights - free speech, freedom of association and the right to hold a dissenting view to that of the government of the day.'"


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