Hager v Attorney General & Dirty Politics

Written By: - Date published: 11:02 am, July 13th, 2015 - 49 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, blogs, democracy under attack, Dirty Politics, journalism, Media, Politics - Tags: ,

Nicky Hager’s application for review of police decisions is being heard today in the High Court.  The case essentially is about whether information seized by the police should have been seized at all, or whether it was covered by journalistic privilege.

In what may be a first there will be live tweeting of the proceedings by Jon Stephenson from Evening Report using the #HagerCase hashtag.  Developments can also be followed here.  There are some suppression orders in place relating to some details and a ten minute delay so that further suppression requests can be considered on the fly.

The respondents include the Manukau District Court which presumably issued the search warrant used by the police relating to the complaint laid by Cameron Slater.

This post will be updated with developments.

Update: How is this for a lack of candour?

From Stuff:

Police got a warrant on September 30, 2014, from a District Court judge. Police had a duty of candour in applying for the warrant and had they given the judge the information they should have, both for and against issuing the warrant, it would never have been issued, Miles said.

Hager was described in the application as a “political author“, so police chose not to emphasise to the judge that Hager was a journalist even though the Crown accepts he is a journalist.

49 comments on “Hager v Attorney General & Dirty Politics”

  1. lprent 1

    Coincidentally, I finally managed to take a day off. Work has been hectic recently.

    So I’ll probably be heading out to Counties-Manakau to lay a complaint against Cameron Slater for hiring and paying Ben Rachinger to illegally access my computers.

    For some reason I think that Cameron Slater is lying (as usual) in his weird ‘explanations’ about why he was depositing money into Ben Rachinger’s account.

    I think that, for all of his erratic methods in publishing it, that Rachinger was describing an accurate set of events. I’d like to know who Cameron Slater’s mysterious ‘backer’ was who was funding this conspiracy to do unauthorised and illegal accesses into my systems.

    I’ll be quite interested in how this appeal goes. Could whoever put this post up point me to any background material on the appeal.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Hopefully the police will show the same enthusiasm in investigating this claim as they have in seeking information from Hager following Slater’s complaint.

      • burt 1.1.1

        The case could essentially be about whether information seized by the police should have been seized at all, or whether it was covered by journalistic privilege.

    • ianmac 1.2

      Great that Mr Prentice is an activist against corruption.

    • Puckish Rogue 1.3

      and if Cameron slater is proven to be not guilty you’ll publish an appropriate apology to him?

      • lprent 1.3.1

        What? For saying that I think he is lying about why he was depositing the money in Ben Rachinger’s account?

        If I am sure that Cameron’s explanation makes sense to me, then I’d be happy to do so. However I suspect that Cameron Slater would have issues being able to prove that to my satisfaction. The documentation that is floating around about the conversations between Cameron and Ben is far too consistent and reads just like Cameron.

        But there is a long way to go before that is likely to happen.

        • Puckish Rogue

          Good thing we have the courts to decide then

          • Lanthanide

            Since when is a court opinion binding on an individual?

            Wasn’t there a case just recently where a man who is widely considered to be the perpetrator of killing his ex-partner was found not guilty by the jury, because the prosecution were barred from presenting their key piece of evidence?

            Somehow the family are still allowed to say that they think he did it, and the police said they have no other suspects.

            • Richard Christie

              the police said they have no other suspects.

              Standard police ploy to avoid responsibility for going a crap job, or worse.

              Ask Arthur Thomas,

          • lprent

            The courts decide on guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”. It does not say that a person who is acquitted are innocent of the charge.

            It merely says that the court still had doubts about their guilt.

            Just as I am likely to have doubts that what Cameron Slater said was factual and not some PR bullshit that he had someone write for him to cast doubt on Rachinger’s account.

            • Puckish Rogue

              Sounds like you’re not very confident

              • lprent

                No – I’m just pointing out that you are either being naive or rather stupid about how the courts determine guilt.

                • Puckish Rogue

                  Well I’m not happy about a lot of the courts decisions, David Bain and Peter Ellis spring to mind but I have to abide by it

                  • Lanthanide

                    What do you mean by “abide by it”? It’s a free country with free speech.

      • Anno1701 1.3.2

        “and if Cameron slater is proven to be not guilty you’ll publish an appropriate apology to him? ”

        like this is standard procedure for every criminal complaint….

      • Tracey 1.3.3

        sadly he has had so much time to destroy electronic trails….

        • David H

          Electronic trails are hard to get rid of but yes kkill and Dump the Drives Shred the Hard Copy But E-Mails and shit can have a nasty habit of reappearing when you least want them to.

    • Old Mickey 1.4

      Good on you! Hope you get the outcome that you want. Probably not too hard to figure out who his backers are or at least the intermediaries.

    • Save NZ 1.5

      +100 – fight back!

  2. Jenny Kirk 2

    Go for it, lprent !

  3. Chooky 3

    …and go Nicky Hager !

    …one of New Zealands’ best researching and investigating journalist voices against corruption

    • lprent 3.1

      Indeed. I hope he wins this appeal.

      • David H 3.1.1

        So complaint laid today, we should see Slaters residence raided, and ALL his devices seized within oh, the next 10 days. Yeah right.

    • Save NZ 3.2

      +100 – Go Nicky Hager, you have huge support!

      NZ deserve the truth and justice, not the police being used as political pawns to help individuals for political purposes.

      And investigative journalists deserve some respect under law, not being condemned to be mere entertainers in a global mass media of trivia that increasingly viewers are rejecting.

      Will justice be done?

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    It’s very good!

    “Mr Miles is now discussing the police application for the search warrant that allowed them to enter Hager’s home and seize his material. Miles says that Hager is referred to in the police paperwork as “a political author.” We don’t understand why Hager is described as a “political author” rather than a political journalist. “The obvious inference is that the fact that he was a journalist is not being emphasised.”

    • ianmac 4.1

      Is it extraordinary that a court case is being reported online as it happens? Amazing! Sign of the times?

  5. lprent 5

    From Jon Stephenson’s running commentary at Evening Report (note that the commentary is running in reverse)

    It’s the search itself which is so chilling, says Miles – coupled with the inevitability the raid will hoover up all the information the journalist will have in his possession.

    “I’m calling it a raid. I’m not exaggerating. That’s exactly what it was – a raid on the confidential information held by a journalist.”

    Julian Miles, QC: We say that there’s an overwhelming argument that the decision to apply for the warrant was illegal. We also say that the way that the police conducted the search was illegal. The police not only sifted through Hager’s journalistic material and seized some of that material, they breached the privilege Mr Hager and his lawyers as soon as they learnt of the raid – by photographing the material, emailing the material to other police officers, and initiating further inquiries, without waiting for a court to rule on the question of privilege.

    Ignoring the Rawshark side, this is what was so chilling about the search warrant and subsequent investigation.

    The warrant and search didn’t confine itself to the case that the police were investigating. It hoovered up ALL of Hager’s work on newspaper and other media for things that had nothing to do with Rawshark or Dirty Politics.

    I’d have issues with the investigation of anyone that targeted such a wide range of material. Especially since such material is usually held for at least a year before getting to a court. For people’s working product that is a hell of a long time and usually looks more punitive than is required by any legal process.

    But especially bearing in mind the way that the investigations of other breaches of computer systems have been handled. For instance the way that Cameron Slater and others illegally accessed the Labour party computers, passed such material to the National party techs and politicians, and then published some of it.

    Or the way that the teapot tapes were handled with searches on various media companies.

    To me, it seems like there is a divergence in how the law is pursued based on who you know. To my mind, it appears that if you have friendly weekly conversations with John Key or you are a left/social activist, it seems to be handled differently…

    That is a issue. But I guess that we will see.

    • McFlock 5.1

      It fucks me off when it seems that a search warrant process has been turned into a fishing expedition.

      I recall when that cop tied himself up years ago and claimed he’d been tortured with pseudo-ritualistc stuff, the police executed a number of warrants on people who looked alternative, swearing that they had reasonable grounds to believe that these alternative folks might possess evidence about a crime that never actually happened. Caught a couple of minor pot growers. Some might say “fair call”, but basically it seemed to me that the cops only executed warrants on people the cops thought were a bit weird – if the cops had had actual evidence beyond prejudice, they wouldn’t have needed to search for evidence of a crime that they were reasonably sure early on hadn’t actually happened.

      • The Baliff 5.1.1

        In certain circles it is being discussed that the cops used the Dirty Politics material as a cover, and they were more interested to see what Hagar had on the NZ Police – to expose corruption.

      • dukeofurl 5.1.2

        This Palmerston North detective – Brent Garner


        or here
        “Police psychologist, Dr. Ian Miller, constructed a personality profile of the attacker. He determined that Garner had been stalked by an unknown person who seemed to be acting out a Satanic fantasy and considered himself to be “an agent of the devil”. Dr. Miller predicted that the stalker was interested in the occult and in Satanism, was educated, well traveled and might be from England.

        Many reports appeared in the media about Satanic ritual abuse and secret, underground, evil cults. The hysteria in the area built up quickly . The Member of Parliament for Nelson, Nick Smith, called for the censoring of violent scenes from movies. He noted that the attack on Detective Garner closely resembled a scene from the movie Reservoir Dogs; the latter involved a knife attack, gasoline, torture and killing. He was convinced that there was a link between this movie and the New Zealand attack.

        • McFlock

          That’s the chappie.

          Although ISTR from the time that after he got convicted, the cops reckoned that they’d almost immediately started a parallel investigation into Garner, as well as serving dodgy warrants on people who dress funny.

          edit: ah, that parallel investigation thing was in your crime link

    • ianmac 5.2

      “To my mind, it appears that if you have friendly weekly conversations with John Key or you are a left/social activist, it seems to be handled differently… ”
      But who would ever know what was said verbally? No emails. No texts. No names so it comes down to trust and a flow on effect that will be a loss of trust of police, politicians and journalists.

      The Crown will justify their actions by claiming that Nicky is a writer and not a journalist. Therefore he is not in their eyes subject to protection. It will be the key pivot I reckon.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Surely Nicky Hager is a free-lance journalist and non-fiction writer all in one. To take this non-journalist line would be to ignore the way that journalism has changed. If Pebbles Hooper could be called a journalist because she wrote gossip for the media would be an example of the meaning change for journalist.

    Russia has just shedded a long-term woman journalist, probably for exactly the reason that Nicky Hager is under scrutiny. A thorn in the side becomes painful and must be plucked out to return that feeling of ease, wellbeing and unchallengeable power to those who seek it.

    • ianmac 6.1

      @greywarshark “Surely Nicky Hager is a free-lance journalist and non-fiction writer all in one.”
      But that will be the problem. If the Crown can argue (see I’m in no way legal) that it was acting on the grounds that Hager is a writer, then the whole case disintegrates. And note that the National politicians referred to him as just a (Communist stirrer etc) writer and I think the warrant was issued by the Court to raid the “writer” Hager’s house.
      I do hope that I am wrong about all that!

  7. David H 7

    One other thing is how long will we have to wait for the judges decision?

  8. What does it mean if Pete George reblogs one of your posts? (About Nicky Hager hence my question here)

    • Without asking your permission? If that’s the case, and you’re not happy about it, ask him to take it down ASAP. Most of his site is recycled or cherry picked TS posts, but he usually adds a little conservative commentary and few lies to make it look like it was all his own idea.

      But if he’s simply stolen your work, that’s a new low.

      • travellerev 8.1.1

        No he reblogged it with acknowledging it’s origin and that is fine by me. It is just that I have no alignment with him or anything. Quite the contrary really!

        • te reo putake

          Still reckon it’s pretty rude. On the up side, your post lifted the IQ level by a few notches. They’re not used to intelligent commentary over at Yawnz.

        • lprent

          We either have pre-arrangements with other blogs to use any of their material for reposting, or they ask us to put it up, or we ask them on a post by post basis.

          We don’t use other people’s posts in toto. We may quote from other posts.

      • ian 8.1.2

        Hager used stolen property to write a book. He stealed personal mail ,opened it, then wrote a story about it for personal profit. He is scum.

        [Boring. Enjoy your banning – MS]

        [lprent: He did not steal it. He well known as not being that computer literate. At worst, he received it like Slater did with the Blomfield disk and documents. However, unlike Slater’s vendetta job, publishing it was in the public interest.

        I’d ban you for writing something defamatory on our site, but MS already did it. ]

        • Lanthanide

          I don’t think Hager “stealed” anything, actually.

          Receiving of stolen property, perhaps, but he *is* a journalist and they get special privileges, so long as what they do with the information gained is in the public interest. Clearly Dirty Politics was in the public interest, and Hager deliberately avoided publishing wholly personal information about Cameron Slater, such as medical information, which apparently was also in the cache.

          [No need to sneer at the spelling, Lanth. We all make mistakes and not every commenter here is a polished writer. The ideas expressed are what we should focus on IMHO. TRP]

        • Colonial Viper

          I get it ian, to you the privacy and dignity of the rich and the powerful is all important, even if they are in the process of disrespecting the privacy and dignity of all of the rest of us.

          Good on ya mate

  9. NZJester 9

    This case is just one of the cases for which Slater needs to be spoken to by the police.
    How is it Slater was allowed to get away with using a stolen hard-drive to do a paid hatchet job on someone without the police doing a raid on him?
    Strange he was paid to do a story on someone and that persons physical hard-drive and files got stolen and delivered to Slater yet the police have totally ignored all that.
    Why was he not at least done for receiving stolen property?
    It seams to be one law for the National Party and it’s associates and another for everyone else.

    • The Baliff 9.1

      I think you will find that the NZ Police have in fact told Slater he is not being investigated as they found no crime, and that the hard drive was not stolen as it in fact belonged to another person who had paid for it, so the ownership belonged to them – IE Blomfield NEVER paid for, or owned the Hard Drive. I also think you will find that Blomfield has been told by the NZ Police that the Hard Drive was not stolen and he has acknolwdged that in writing to the NZ Police, and despite his continual rhetoric on the matter he well knows the Hard Drive was not his to claim. Perjury springs to mind in this case. Time will tell. As far as the stories being published in the public interest – that will play out over the coming months. As for Hagar lets see what Miles QC comes up with at this point in the trial. All fascinating stuff as we see the rise of the Blog as media.

  10. Smilin 10

    We have a minister of justice ? na a flying fig would be more accurate
    Wish you luck fellas in your battle

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