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Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, December 28th, 2011 - 126 comments
Categories: Media, national - Tags: , ,

Under cover of Christmas, the Nats are following in their long tradition of intimidating journalists. The Herald reports:

‘Tea tape’ newsman’s costs ‘political vindictiveness’

The Government’s demand for court costs from cameraman Bradley Ambrose can only be seen as “political vindictiveness”, according to political analyst Dr Bryce Edwards.

The Attorney-General has filed a memorandum in the High Court at Auckland seeking $13,669.45 in costs from Mr Ambrose after the freelancer sought a declaration from the High Court on whether the “tea tape” conversation was private. …

Otago University political analyst Dr Bryce Edwards told Newstalk ZB the almost $14,000 request is a small amount for the Government, and it was legitimate for Mr Ambrose to try to get a declaratory judgment on whether the conversation recorded between John Key and John Banks was private.

Dr Edwards felt the demand smacks of revenge. “I don’t think we can see this as anything other than political vindictiveness on the part of the Government, which is a bit scary as we expect the media to be robust,” he said.

126 comments on “Petty”

  1. mik e 1

    brelusconi all over again complete media control

  2. Zetetic 2

    It’s pure intimidation. They’ve got no chance of actually winning costs.

    a) the attorney-general didn’t have to be at there hearings – it wasn’t as if the PM was on trial. It was an application for a judicial declaration on the status of the meeting, nothing to do with the A-G.

    b) To get costs awarded against someone, they need to do more than just have lost a geniune legal dispute. There needs to be something egregious, eg they were setting out to waste the other side’s time and money without any real hope of winning the case. Ambrose didn’t even lose. The Court declined to give a judgment.

    • aerobubble 2.1

      Cameramen record background to make the politicians sound better.

      Shame the cameramen can’t forget to do National the favor.

      Wonder how long before th PM buckles.

      So no, I don’t care the the cameraman is being chased for costs.

      He did nothing wrong and every cameraman should be angry by now.

      Why aren’t they? Why haven’t they rebelled? The courts are the last resort and so if the cameramen and women can’t be asked to defend each other by alternative means of course the nazi govt is going to target them.

    • a) the Attorney-General is regularly represented at hearings involving an application for a declaratory judgement, especially one where the judgment is sought against the world. And he also regularly represents the Prime Minister, who was clearly involved (as a person).

      b) that’s not how costs work at all. To get all your costs back, there needs to be something egregious. To get some, as the A-G is seeking, is standard.

      If you want to make a point, it might be better to ask why this involved the PM, and not the Leader of the National Party. This might be the far better argument. It was political and not governmental, so arguably John Key should have been paying for this himself. 

      • seeker 2.2.1

        @Graeme. Edgeler

        “It was political and not governmental, so arguably John Key should have been paying for this himself. ”

        It certainly was political. Good point Graeme E. Thanks for clarification.

      • mickysavage 2.2.2

        Interesting point Graeme.  Why should we as taxpayers fund litigation in order to preserve Key National and ACT from political embarrassment.  The point is complicated by the fact that a declaration was applied for but the Cabinet Manual says this:

        4.37  On occasion, Ministers may be sued for acts done while a Minister, but which have a more “personal” aspect. For example, a Minister may be sued in defamation arising from the contents of a particular speech or other public statement. Alternatively, proceedings may be instituted alleging that a Minister has acted dishonestly or in bad faith. The extent to which a Minister will be personally liable will depend on the law relating to the particular matter.

        4.38  By their very nature, cases against a Minister personally raise issues about whether the Minister has acted so far beyond the scope of his or her authority that the Minister should not be indemnified by the Crown in relation to the proceedings. No absolute legal right to indemnity by the Crown exists just because a Minister was acting as a Minister in doing, or refraining from doing, the act that is the subject of the claim.

        4.39  Where a Minister is sued or threatened with legal action personally and it is uncertain whether he or she should be indemnified, the normal arrangement is to seek Cabinet’s agreement in advance to meet the expenses of legal representation. The question of indemnity on costs and damages will be held over until judgment has been given. (See paragraphs 4.49 – 4.52.)

        4.40  If an indemnity is given to a Minister, the government may be called on to answer for it in the House. 

         So put to one side the Solicitor General’s role in handling applications for a declaration it looks like the State has been providing Key with free lawyers.  I wonder if it went through cabinet.  At the very least the Government should be called on in the House to respond.

        • Frida

          I made this point at the time but no one responded.

          The AG was there as contradictor only and should have just abided the court’s decision not made active submissions supporting john key’s position.

          And no need for a costs application as a result.

          Sounds to me like the odious little SG knows he is held in low regard by most in the profession and by the PM and was trying to curry favour.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Yes… this one really, really worries me. Currently there is no proof of political interference that I’m aware of, but it stinks of bad faith and you have to ask why.

    • Zetetic 3.1

      the Attorney-General is Finlayson. It was his decision to do this. There’s not the same distance between the actions of a department and the responsibility of the minister when it comes to the A-G.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        Thanks Zet. I kind of suspected that but wasn’t sure about saying it out loud because it just seems so wrong. My instinct would have said that Findlayson would have known better than this…. has he been leaned on?

        Still can we say ‘blatant conflict of interest’?

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    There are the workers (labourers) in the media industry, the journalists/camera types/sound technicians.
    And then there are the controlling editors and owners.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    On the face of it seeking costs is both premature in an undecided case and a pre-emptive punitive action. Do you want a bit of this too? is clearly the subtext intended for other journalists.

    The AG did not have to be there bar obvious political maneuvering in the furnace hot pre election period. If the recorded ShonKey did publicly come across as the prize prick most of the left knows him to be, it could well have dropped the nats down a couple of points and changed the course of the election.

    Ambrose seems a bit of a flake in terms of motive for his actions or lack of. Not that it excuses the costs tactic. Most of us still don’t know if the tapes contain anything of interest, or if Mr Ambrose has any political leanings. Is he hanging on for hope of some pecuniary gain at some point?

    • bbfloyd 5.1

      “Ambrose seems a bit of a flake in terms of motive for his actions”…. as depicted by the compliant section of the “news media”…… so why would anyone use what is obviously self serving propaganda as a basis for making value judgements regarding personal motivation?

      if it serves to reinforce flawed, and self serving opinions,…. then i suppose it’s relevant…. not even remotely useful in the wider issues, but useful to those who would seek to undermine any type of intellectual vigor, and independent thought that could lead to our “leaders” being exposed for what they really represent….

    • aerobubble 5.2

      I thought to get costs you had to show damages, what damage? If you crash into someone doing their job, and have capable staff around you, no less than the security detail of the PM (whose job it is to check all packages for a small spread device) then how can YOU claim damages when you staff fail. Cameramen need to have a background mic to remove noise from passing trucks etc.

      And no, nobody was going to commit suicide, unless the PM had on the tape…

    • Clipbox 5.3


      The letter notes that Ambrose has always been a National Party voter…

  6. Pundit X 6

    Yes he is being intimidated but lets not go down the road of Ambrose’s motive. Of course he’s hoping to make some money out of the recording. Robert Fisk gets paid, John Pilger gets paid, why not Ambrose? He gave us what would have been the scoop of the election campaign had the MSN had the courage to run it.

    Ambrose’s problem is that he has chosen to be a videographer in a country whose media both editorially cash strapped and sychophantic towards the right. As a freelance he won’t have made a cent from an unused recording offered on spec. However he did it he showed Key up to the country at large just what a fraud Key actually is and for that he should be journalist of the year…

    • Rob 6.1

      Key’s political high point was probably half an hour before he had tea with John Banks I consider for him the next part of his journey is all downhill.

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    get a grip bb and Pundit,
    • there is info out there not from the msm on Ambrose, people can change, but an ex coppers institutionalised core world view? A leap of faith without knowing the guy personally. Actions only can be assessed.
    • of course people should get paid, I remarked at the time of the initial breaking of the “Teapot Tapes’ story that people in the industry are appallingly treated (played off against each other, classified as contractors when there is an obvious dependent contractor or employment relationship) whether they film and edit auto or horse racing or stories like this one.
    • if Bradley Ambrose had chosen “damn the torpedos” to self publish when it became clear others were not going to I would hold him in the regard you two seem to. Sure he might “never work in this town again” if he had done so and that would be a fair enough reason, wanting to eat, to do what he has. The other option was third party ‘unauthorised’ leaking.
    • it would still be most interesting to listen to the recording

    There is something awry in this case, and as much as it might be nice to see Key and Banksie go down in a shower of s**t it all needs to be properly examined.

    • bbfloyd 7.1

      the grip i have is one where making assumption regarding “motivation” being allowed to colour one’s total viewpoint rather detracts from the accuracy of the conclusions arrived at…. and once more for the intransigent…… quoting a compliant, and duplicious ….(self serving) fourth column is fraught with risk…. principally the risk of being utterly wrong….. or being seen to have an agenda to push, or support, rather than making insightful comment…..

      and where on earth has this “ex coppers institutionalised world view” come from? i’m assuming this is a response to the point i made….

      • Pundit X 7.1.1

        and where on earth has this “ex coppers institutionalised world view” come from? i’m assuming this is a response to the point i made….

        Ambrose is apparently an ex policeman.

  8. The vast majority of CLO decisions are taken by the Solicitor-General without reference to the Attorney-General (exercising powers given to the S-G under the Constitution Act). Unless you’ve specific evidence that the usual course was not taken in the present case, it would be sensible to conclude the usual course was followed in this instance.

    • Treetop 8.1

      Can seeking costs be deemed as interference in a police matter by the executive (Attorney General)as the police commisioner has to be seen to be independent and no crime has yet been established?

      Justice Winkleman was wary of making the declaration as she said it could influence the police’s decision to charge Ambrose.

      Has the Solicitor General now been placed in an untenable position with the Commissioner of Police by the Attorney General as it is not unusual for the Commissioner of Police to seek an opinion from the Solicitor General?

      I noticed Marshall’s appointment was for three years (up in April 2014) and the next election is in late 2014. If Marshall does not tow the line, his appointment may not be extended for the usual five year appointment for a police commissioner.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        If Marshall does not tow the line, his appointment may not be extended for the usual five year appointment for a police commissioner.

        My understanding from a police source is that Peter Marshall himself made the rather smart call to only take up a three year contract. If you stay in the job long enough some shit-grenade eventually blows up on your watch; Marshall apparently stipulated that he would do the job long enough to achieve the changes he wanted and then step down.

        Otherwise Treetop, I suspect you are very close to correct. The entire matter stinks of bad faith and there has to be an explanation.

        • Treetop

          I’d like to see Marshall’s “achieve the changes” list and I do not think that a reduced budget is on the list. Take your pick from a bully government to a cash strapped government.

          I’d like to see a bank account opened for Ambrose’s legal fees to let the government know that they cannot silence anyone individual in this country from taking a stand against being vilified.

          • Tazirev

            I would contribute if an account was opened

            • Treetop

              Me to. I do not know what the process is to open an account for donations and I hope that this is done soon.

              • Pundit X

                I’d contribute also but only if Ambrose actually published the recording unedited and in full.

                • IrishBill

                  I’m sure we’d be happy to publish it.

                • Colonial Viper

                  That’s the one. Let’s hear what was said.

                • Happy to contribute too. Also very happy to see the standard publish it.

                • Blue

                  My understanding is that Ambrose does not have a copy of the recording, so he can’t publish it. He said he had turned it over to the HOS.

                  The HOS has already made the decision not to publish. The only way it could be published now would be if one of the other media organisations who have a copy decide to publish, or it gets leaked to someone who will publish it.

                  I would contribute to any fund set up to help him regardless.

                  • Fotran

                    Winston has a transcript, and will read it out under Parliamentary Privilege as soon as Parliament sits, and he gets a chance. So patience.

                    • Vicky32

                      Winston has a transcript, and will read it out under Parliamentary Privilege as soon as Parliament sits, and he gets a chance. So patience.

                      He does and he will? We’ll see… after all, he has to be good for something!

                • Bobby Jr

                  I would also contribute on the condition that Ambrose admits he deliberately recorded the conversation, knowing full well that was against the wishes of the people present.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Why would Ambrose admit something that wasn’t true? Key’s security let the recorder keep running so how do you know that they weren’t OK with it?

                    • Bobby Jr

                      The recorder was with Ambrose. Only the remote mic was on the table, in a bag. Ambrose knew what he was doing – everyone knows this except people used to conjuring up lawyer-esque “prove it” lines of defence in the face of the obvious.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Why were Key’s security men OK with the remote mic on the table? They kept it there.

                  • Treetop

                    How many people were present and were all those people aware of the wishes of Key and Banks?

                    • Bobby Jr

                      Dozens.. and all except Ambrose were aware of the wishes.

                      This whole thing seems to stem on the issue whether it is possible to have a private conversation in a public place. And, if a conversation can be deemed to be private once people are asked to leave/not listen – regardless of whether they can see the participants through a glass window. Is visibility the benchmark? Or distance? Or proximity to public space? All of these things seem to get argued pretty conveniently in hindsight depending on which side you support.

                    • Treetop

                      Bobby Jr in response to your comment 29 Dec at 6.24 pm “Dozens.. and all except Ambrose were aware of the wishes.”

                      You seem to know what the dozens present in the room knew. Please provide the proof of what the dozens present knew at the time of the teapot conversation?

                      See paragraph 3 in my 29 Dec at 2:49 pm comment for my definition of a private conversation.

                      Even clincians in particular counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists do breach patient confidentiality when it comes to harm to self or harm to others. No doubt there is political harm to self and political harm to others and the enemy is a whistle blower.

                  • Treetop

                    Bobby Jr in response to your 29 Dec 2:19 pm post to C.V, anyone close by to the table that Key and Banks were sitting at could have been a decoy with a listening device.

                    I now have to ask the question: Was the conversation between Key and Banks ABLE to be overheard?

                    When I have a PRIVATE conversation, I make sure that the ONLY person who can hear me is the person I am having the private conversation with. Maybe next time the PM meets with the SIS boss it can be in a cafe and we can all be invited. Irrelevant on the Banks/Key conversation being taped, that would be my defence were I Ambrose.

                    Key and Banks need to
                    1. Admit the problem
                    2. Own the problem
                    3. Take responsibility for the problem

                    I will not know what their problem is until I hear the teapot tape. I know this much, that what they said is being concealed by them and that both of them are on a witch hunt regarding Ambrose.

                    • RedLogix

                      Or to put it even more succiently; if Key and Banks wanted a private conversation… they should’ve got a room.

                      Like the rest of us do.

                    • Bobby Jr

                      Treetop, I thought it was well established that everyone was asked to leave the room and ushered out. I’m not sure what message that was supposed to send to everyone if not: we don’t want you here. I think it’s quite implicit that recording the conversation which would follow was not invited.

                      Whether you believe it was accidental or not it is fair to assume that basically everyone other than Ambrose got the message that mix-n-mingle time was over. Whatever your definition of private conversation is, I’m sure we’ll find out sometime soon whether the courts agree.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Treetop, I thought it was well established that everyone was asked to leave the room and ushered out

                      Nope, footage clearly shows that other cafe patrons stayed at their seats and continued eating.

                    • Bobby Jr

                      @Colonial Viper. I think it’s pretty clear they meant “other than patrons” who were present.

                      See, this here is exactly the sort of finicky, defence lawyer-esque thread of debate which suits the internet but doesn’t stack up with the way the most people operate in real life. It’s all very well to point out details and claim they’re significant in the scheme of things but they don’t alter the likely fact that everyone who was there to see Key/Banks was aware that social time was over. If not through being told or by realising that all their peers were being shooed out. We’ve seen photos of the media lined up outside the cafe looking in. Don’t you think a normal person at some point would assume they were outside because they’d been asked?

                      The fact that other patrons remained inside could even support this claim as Key’s staff might well have had to go around and confirm people were patrons and not media (or just make a mental note – pity no-one looked at the table right in front of them ha ha).

                      People defending Ambrose here seem to be doing it not because there is any particular case either way, rather that it perfectly suits their dislike of Key to assume whatever position on ANY subject in opposition to whatever he is saying/doing. As others have said, had it been Helen Clark in this position the same people would be here screaming for Ambrose to be arrested.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      @Colonial Viper. I think it’s pretty clear they meant “other than patrons” who were present.

                      See, this here is exactly the sort of finicky, defence lawyer-esque thread of debate which suits the internet but doesn’t stack up with the way the most people operate in real life.

                      So you know there were members of the public dining there. In fact, sitting within a metre or two of Banks and Key. Either the cafe was a public place or it was a private meeting space.

                      Now which is it.

                      If it’s not too finicky to ask, that is. Because since its an important point of NZ privacy law, you better be prepared to answer.

                      As others have said, had it been Helen Clark in this position the same people would be here screaming for Ambrose to be arrested.

                      Actually, Helen Clark wouldn’t have set up this kind of Key and Banks media circus, so it would never have happened.

                    • Treetop

                      Bobby Jr I asked this question on this thread on 29 Dec at 2.49 pm.

                      Was the conversation between Key and Banks ABLE to be overheard?

                    • Bobby Jr

                      @Treetop. Sorry, didn’t get around to answering the Q. I think that it’s easy to paint this in a black and white scenario depending what you chose to believe – basically whatever your political leanings lead you to – when there is probably plenty of middle ground. Just what entails a “private conversation” has not been determined as completely private with no-one else around to hear. Likewise, just what entails a “public conversation” hasn’t either. As Colonial Viper said there were patron nearby. Does that automatically make anything Key/Banks said open season for people who were there for the sole reason to record? What about those randomly there for a coffee? (we know Ambrose was present to record for news media so intent is established already surely? It should be up to him to prove that he backed off and accidentally left his recording device on)

                      I think it is absolutely possible to have a private conversation in a public space. It is harder no doubt, but it’s not as clear cut as people seem to want to argue either way. From what we know about the situation it seems pretty clear the intention was for all journalists to leave. Whether all of the journos heard that message or not cannot be proven which is why we end up with this “you cannot prove I heard it” scenario, the sort of argument which makes for good legal defence regardless or not it is the truth. It’s a line of debate far too many people run down as soon as a scenario can be judged from a heavily politically slanted position.

                      Ambrose’s application to the court was to get top legal word on a small aspect of the whole scenario so he could disseminate his tape prior to the election – a situation entirely supported by people who wanted the pending election date to expedite the unravelling of all of this rather than letting the normal legal timeline unravel it. To me that smells much more of a political pursuit rather than any care for the truth or Ambrose’s intentions.

                    • Treetop

                      Bobby Jr in response to your comment 30 Dec at 3.19 pm

                      “Does that automatically make anything Key/Banks said open season for people who were there for the sole reason to record?”

                      My answer to this is: What was the intent of Key and Banks to have invited the media to film and tape them having a publicised cup of tea in a public area prior to a general election?

                      “What about those randomly there for coffee?”

                      They remained in their seats within hearing distance and anyone of them could have recorded the conversation on a cell phone.

                      Did the DPS ask for all cell phones from those present in the cafe?

                      Had the DPS done their job properly no one would have been left in the cafe or left holding a camera or a bag looking through the glass at Key and Banks. Key and Banks let the cameras roll to get votes, I regard this as being manipulative. I do not like seeing the media being manipulated either as there is such a thing as freedom of speech and I believe it is the job of the media to report the FACTS without favour or bias.

                    • Bobby Jr

                      @Treetop. Fair call on most of that. I just don’t see that being in a public place automatically makes a conversation public. Especially, as I’ve said, when it was pretty obvious to the people present for the purpose of recording stuff that fun time was over. I agree that people at the cafe randomly could have recorded them – but wouldn’t that still be covert surveillance? That’s how spies have gotten info since day dot. Likewise, does being in a public place mean someone can record you with a parabolic listening device without you having any right to complain? Where is the line? It’s grey as far as I’m concerned and this case is especially grey – in no way falling completely on the media freedom side of the scale. (again, Key haters struggle to separate themselves from the notion that they may be taking the stance they do for no reason other than it suits their dislike of him – hence the Clark comparison)

                      “I do not like seeing the media being manipulated either as there is such a thing as freedom of speech and I believe it is the job of the media to report the FACTS without favour or bias.”

                      I agree totally, but media don’t report the facts without favour/bias and haven’t done for years… except of course when people agree with what they write and all of a sudden it’s good, honest reporting. Blogs are generally even further out to each wing – The Standard, No Right Turn, Kiwiblog, WhaleOil etc are considered gospel to the people who agree with them – and little more than biased fabrications or fronts for various political groups to those who don’t. So far as the mainstream media are concerned it’s not too dissimilar – their integrity is at an all-time low. Nothing they get up to should be viewed as simply “by-chance”. They can coerce almost any situation you could imagine into an ‘ooops, sorry – accidental recording’ one when it suits their purposes and then argue the contents of the tapes automatically fits the “public good” line of reasoning to justify their release. (i.e. mistrust of the mainstream media should be the default starting point imo, not altruistic news reporting)

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Basically Ambrose was correct to have the judgement sought, and Key is wrong for allowing his Govt to try and chill the course of justice by charging him for it.

                    • RedLogix

                      I think it is absolutely possible to have a private conversation in a public space.

                      Possible yes, but there is no legal right to one.

                      If you need confidentiality you find a private room where you can be reasonably certain that there are no cameras or microphones to eavesdrop. Anywhere else is just plain bad judgement. Alternately if you don’t want to be embarrassed about what you say if other people might overhear, then don’t say it. Again just plain bad judgement if you act otherwise.

                      For example; I’m sitting on the train sounding off to a mate about my psycho boss.. whose brother-in-law happens to be in the seat behind with his cell-phone recording me. Result? I’m screwed. How far do you think I’d get in an employment Court arguing that I thought I was having a private conversation?

                      In fact I recall a case not so long ago when a salesman was sacked after accidently dialling his boss on his cellphone while at the same time he was sort of bagging the company to a customer. He certainly thought the conversation was private, it wasn’t even in a public place, but the Court didn’t for an instant consider it a private conversation.

                      In other words, while it is possible to have a discrete conversation in a public setting, there is no right to one.

                    • Treetop

                      Bobby Jr in response to your comment 30 Dec at 6.05 pm.

                      I like what RedLogix has to say about commonsense. Unfortunately this (commonsense) was not exercised by Key and Banks as they could not be assured that their conversation could not be over heard.

                      Were they oblivious to their surroundings?

                      Surely it has not come to this: That you have to cover your ears when the PM is having a conversation in a public place as he may deem it to be private or do the media have to ask the PM in future if he is having a private conversation when the media are invited?

                    • Bobby Jr

                      @RedLogix, @ Treetop. Good points. I can’t say I disagree with you but still think the fact that journos present were asked to leave and they all did (whether Ambrose heard the request or was just following the pack he did leave the room and was there for quite some time waiting around) – distinguishes him from the “randomly overheard” line of debate. Whether any genuine patrons overheard or not is also a bit irrelevant as none have come forward and said they could at this point. If they could then that would be a very different story, but not for Ambrose. It is almost as if those supporting him want to play both sides of the field – arguing “press freedom” when it suits them and, when that doesn’t seem to get traction, the “it was accidental and anyway it happened in a public place..” – Is that ‘freedom to partake in accidental covert recordings’? lol

                      In short, it’s all a little too convenient to argue it that way for people who basically hate Key and/or Banks as is the case with most people here without any doubt whatsoever. If Ambrose did it deliberately: the tape can’t come out, but since that is basically impossible to prove – and everyone involved knows it – somehow press freedom has entered them mix when it’s really nothing to do with this at all. The situation is either: he covertly recording a private conversation OR he accidentally recorded a conversation which could be considered public or private. Either way the situation would end the same way if an honourable person in the habit of acting ethically was involved.

                      As it stands however we’re dealing with the mainstream media who few could debate often excuse themselves from operating ethically or having any honour in direct correlation to the sauciness of a story. And it seems half of NZ (well, 27% at least) have taken the bait and think ‘poor Mr Ambrose, little guy being given the beat-up by the mean National people.’

  9. Pundit X 9

    Where’s Savage when you need him.. This is just an intimidatory salvo, unless a judge orders cost to be paid then there are no costs owing. Surely this is a matter that should have been before the judge when Ambrose made his application and surely his counsel would have informed him of prospective liability? His liability for cost would seem to hinge on whether he is found guilty of recording a private conversation. I’d say the MSN have hung him out to dry.

    As a photojournalist who regularly offered work to the MSN in the UK and the US ( I choose not to work here – no news and no money) I’m astonished at the way this was handled. The editor of New Zealand’s largest Sunday paper phones up the Prime Minister in the middle of an election and gives away the best story of the entire campaign… “Prime Minister sorry to trouble you I know your very busy with the campaign but a freelance videographer has just brought in a recording of your conversation with John Banks and I wondered if you’d mind if we published it? No, thought not but just thought I’d ask.. Incidentally how’s Bronagh and the kids. Best of luck for Saturday.”

    • Treetop 9.1

      Anything is possible e.g. Ambrose could have been paid to keep quiet and the Attorney General asking for court costs may be a way of throwing the public off the scent.

      When the public percieve the executive as being too involved with the media or vice versa questions need to be asked about crossing ethical/legal boundaries.

      If there is nothing to hide on the teapot tapes, having the contents released will be the proof.

    • Um it is a huge amount of money but you know how rapacious and greedy the legal profession is …

      The general rule is that costs follow the decision and there is an established schedule of what can be claimed.  Ambrose’s best arguments are:

      1.  The matter is not finalized.  There are defamation proceedings ready to be lodged.
      2.  It was in the nature of a test case and the public interest involved should mean that no costs are awarded.
      3.  Key has essentially protected a private interest by having the State defend the case for him and it would be unjust for Ambrose to have to pay costs.

      There are probably dozens of other grounds to raise but in my holiday brain state this is all I can manage pre coffee. 

  10. Ed 10

    This does highlight the issue of the tapes again. Either National are desperate to avoid it being leaked, or someone within National is trying to keep it in the news – Is John Key not actually as uniformly loved by the right as the spin-merchants try to tell us?

  11. Pundit X 11

    The fact that the memorandum on expenses has been tabled means it can’t be much longer before the police actually reach a conclusion as to whether or not the recording was made illegally and if so whether or not to charge Ambrose. My take is that we will never actually know (apart from Winston Peters speculation) what was said in the recording. If the police decide the recording was made illegally that effectively suppresses the recording even if they don’t charge Ambrose. If they do charge him and he is found Guilty, still suppressed. If they decide it wasn’t recorded illegally or he is found not guilty then it can be published but as Ambrose is the copyright holder of the recording it can only be published with his consent. I’d say without a buyer in the MSN it will never be heard and the MSN won’t touch it as it is old news, no longer relevant – well that will be their excuse. For Ambrose to then give it away creates a terrible precedent for freelance journos he simply won’t do it. I hope I’m wrong.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      For Ambrose to then give it away creates a terrible precedent for freelance journos he simply won’t do it.

      Doesn’t the content just need to be couched in an alternative way or context eg. as an academic or teaching case study.
      That way the content gets out in the open while no negative precedent for freelance journalism is set.

      then it can be published but as Ambrose is the copyright holder of the recording it can only be published with his consent.

      Again, as long as it were known, couldn’t the entire contents of the recording be discussed and publicly critically reviewed in detail without the recording per se being published/broadcast and hence without copyright being broken?

  12. Bobby Jr 12

    Ambrose brought this on himself really. He sought a decision from the court on an act he did. Key had no almost part in this sequence of choices Ambrose made which got us to this point.

    He’s just now looking like the kook because what he intended to do in order to make some money has blown up in his face. When you play with fire it happens sometimes. It’s one of the key reasons HoS et al use freelancers – so they get the goods when they want but can treat stuff like this at arms-length.

  13. ghostwhowalksnz 13

    Giving it away ?
    Well it could be foolish to give it ALL away. But then havent Herald/TV3 got it allready, surely they paid something ?. Otherwise he could release a ‘teaser’ part of it for free.

    This costs thing sounds like firing a shot over the bows. To show who has the biggest bazookas.

  14. Tombstone 14

    I think we should get behind this journalist and show Key that he is one man, but we are many and when you attack one of us you attack us all. I’ll also happily donate money to help this guy. I don’t have a lot but if I can help I will. I believe in freedom of speech and the right to know the truth about what our elected leaders and politicians are saying about us. Key needs to be taken to task over this and our toothless media need to jack up a hard hitting, no nonsense interview with him and stop all this pandering to Brand Key. It’s pathetic.

  15. Pundit X 15

    @Blue. It’s a digital recording, I can’t see Ambrose giving it to the HOS in that way without being paid for exclusivity and then as I understand it TV3 also have a copy. Nor can I see Ambrose not keeping an archive copy for himself. As an aside this whole affair does serve as significant reminder of just how unethical the NZ media has become. The recording was made at a photo op called by Key in order to publicise his nod and a wink to the voters of Epsom every news organisation that sent crews to that event knows they were being complicit in helping National win the election. Moreover they all singularly failed to act on the only genuine story to come out of the event. They would probably like it to go away for if the recording was now published it would show us – if any of us had any doubt just what a shower of shit they actually are.

    • Blue 15.1

      Ambrose was working for the Herald, in that he was asked by the website arm of the Herald to go and film the meeting that day. So strictly speaking, the Herald actually owns the footage, because they commissioned him.

      I fully agree re media (lack of) ethics. The transcript should have been published by the HOS as soon as they got it. I doubt it will ever be published by any MSM organisation now.

      • Pundit X 15.1.1

        It depends on what arrangements were made regarding the commission. Although the law regarding commissioning is straightforward in New Zealand copyright is held by the commissioner. You can agree a licensing or first use deal instead. I can’t see Ambrose putting himself through all this crap if he has no rights to the recording himself. Nor can I see how third parties such as TV 3 were given a copy by HOS if they had sole copyright and had agreed with Key not to publish.

        But just a quick word on copyright and authorship rights in New Zealand as oposed to other Berne Convention signatories. Whilst the rest of Berne signatories were giving authorship rights to authors, artists, photographers in the eighties – Britain did it in 1989. The National government in New Zealand under pressure from the MSN ensure it didn’t happen here. The last Labour government under pressure from creative professionals and organisations such as the AIPA and NZIPP reviewed the situation and it was given to Judith Tizard to review. She stonewalled the creatives in favour of the MSN ( it took her 6 months to respond to my letter) in the very vain hope they would somehow show their appeciation. They caned Labour in the run up to 2008 and the rest as they say is history.

        • Colonial Viper

          Labour was happy for a for-profit corporate MSM model in this country to continue, and they continue to reap the results.

        • Blue

          Ambrose didn’t put himself through any of this crap. When he realised what he had inadvertently recorded he gave the footage over to its owner (the Herald) and left it to them and their lawyers to decide what to do with it.

          I can’t imagine that he could have done anything else in that position under the law as it stands.

          • Pundit X

            So it wasn’t Ambrose who sought a judgment on the legality of the recording? So why he being charged for costs? Am I missing something? Are you a friend with an inside take? Or are you speculating like the rest of us?

            • Blue

              Ambrose sought the judgment because the police are investigating whether to charge him with making an illegal recording. They are targeting him personally, not the Herald, who hired him.

              He maintains that he made it by accident, but obviously his lawyer tried to go down a different route by trying to challenge the idea that it was a private conversation and nip the potential charge in the bud there and then.

              The court wouldn’t take on such a politically contentious decision before the election, and the action failed and now he’s being charged for costs.

              I know a little about the situation, and the rest is speculation.

          • mickysavage

            I can’t imagine that he could have done anything else in that position under the law as it stands.

            Well, um, he could have played it. There are plenty of examples where data obtained in a public setting has been published. Squillions of them actually.

            • Blue

              He doesn’t have an agenda, Micky. He’s not a political activist, in fact he’s on the record as saying he’s a National Party voter.

              He’s not a crusading journalist either. He’s a cameraman who would probably prefer to be going down a volcano than going to some staged cup of tea nonsense in Epsom.

              This was just a job to him. A way to pay the bills.

              • Um Blue I was responding to your comment suggesting that the taping was illegal and I was suggesting that it was nothing of the sort.

                • Blue

                  Sorry Micky. I thought you were criticising Ambrose for not publishing the tape himself. Some people seem to think he should be a one-man Wikileaks.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Blue. Most whistleblowers are single individuals. Private Manning, the source of most of Wikileaks info, was a single individual.

                    Don’t mistake a potential source of info (Ambrose) for the route that info may be disseminated into the public sphere.

                    Hell, anyone at those TV stations could forward a transcript or copy of the recording to Wikileaks if they wanted. That’s what it’s there for.

  16. If Paul Henry had of covertly taped Helen Clark, and then denied it, you guys would go nuts and be calling for jail time, but because it happened to John Key Bradley Ambrose or White is a hero.

    • Pundit X 16.1

      @ Brett Dale and Bobby J. I see the RWNJ’s have had their morning coffee..

      • mac1 16.1.1

        Pundit X, morning coffee but not a read of a good grammar or dictionary. One of the signs of a RWNJ troll.

    • Treetop 16.2

      I am making a stand for any person who does not have the influence or resources who is being attacked by those who must be seen to be impartial due to the position they hold.

      Clark would not be so brazenly foolish as Key and Banks were.

      I just hope someone from the police leaks the tape to let Key and Banks know that Marshall runs the police and that no politician pisses on Marshall’s shoes.

    • millsy 16.3

      Brett, it is “had have”, not “had of”.

      And it isnt “Should/Would/Could of”, it is “Should/Would/Could have”.

      There is this person I work with who does the same, even in emails to clients, and it really pisses me off.

    • Daveosaurus 16.4

      If Paul Henry had covertly taped Helen Clark, and the tape was broadcast, it would probably have too many big words in it for you to easily understand what had been said.

  17. Pundit X 17

    This just in from Winston:


    Leader of NZ First Winston Peters is questioning why the teacup tape legal case is being handled as though it is a case involving the Prime Minister, acting as Prime Minister?

    The meeting between Key and John Banks was a meeting between the leader of the National Party and the Act candidate for Epsom.

    This whole affair created, bungled, and since mishandled is being conducted like some affair of state when in point of fact it occurred around the events of a shonky election deal between two political parties, National and Act.

    That being the case why is there tax money involved here when it is a party political, not a taxpayer, matter. In fact most taxpayers think the whole event was disgraceful.

    “Why are government lawyers involved or can we now take it as read that lawyers acting for the government are now moonlighting for the National Party on the taxpayer’s pocket?” asked Mr Peters

    I am calling upon Mr Key and Mr Banks to stop abusing taxpayer’s time and money on a case which has nothing to do with the taxpayer and everything to do with their venal political interests.

    “Mr Key and Mr Banks should pay for this circus yourselves” said Mr Peters

    • Bobby Jr 17.1

      Nothing Peters says with regards to the finer points of legality or ethics is worth considering. Laws and interpretations of them seem to bend according to how best suits Peters.

    • the sprout 17.2

      It will be good having peters back in the house shoving red hot pins into national on a daily basis. Somehow i cant see labour doing it

      • Anne 17.2.1

        No, I can’t see Labour doing it either and I’m still trying to figure out what’s up with them. They sat on their a—s for 3 years and let numerous opportunities to have the NAct govt’s guts for garters slip past them. And even when they did raise the energy to have a go, someone in Labour always mucked it up one way or another. It’s early days I know, but I’m not sure Shearer is going to be any better than Goff when it comes to calling the govt. to account.

        • newsense

          When there’s trouble and strife, and Labour’s voting for bad Govmint legislation
          That’s Pagani

  18. Pundit X 18

    Brett Dale and Bobby Jr – great handle for a RWNJ seem to be obsessing about Helen Clark. Boys she left office in 2008…

  19. Pundit X 19

    Having just been informed of the death on Christmas day of an old friend and colleague, Steve Bent on Christmas Day. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/8983587/Steve-Bent.html

    I was reflecting on Steve’s career and my own and then another post arrived from Bobby Jr on the Petty thread bringing me back to the banal … To introduce a little perspective there are photographers, journalists and news crews out there who are passionate about what they do. Their desire to inform the world on the gravest of issues overiding all thoughts of personal risk or gain.

    Then there is Bradley Ambrose who Blue informs us is no crusading journalist but a former policeman turned camera operator, trying to pay his mortgage, he even votes National. Having unknowingnly recorded the biggest story of the election campaign he dutifully turns it over to his commisioning agent the Herald on Sunday. Who then puts in a quick call to Key to see if he’d mind being politically embarrassed one week out from an election. The rest we know.

    It seems Ambrose is a reluctant hero who clearly doesn’t want to be a standard bearer for press freedom – no pun intended. And yes it our projection that is making him so. The whole issue is quite bizarre. A National voting camera operator whose every action thus far has been completely lawful is picked on by the government and threatened with enormous costs seemingly to intimidate him into not doing what he isn’t going to do anyway making him the poster boy of press freedom in New Zealand. You couldn’t make it up..

    I just hope Ambrose realizes there is more to newsgathering than just pointing the camera and pressing the record button. There is a duty to inform – its why your there. Otherwise you might as well go back to issuing traffic citations…

  20. Pundit X 20

    Winston again…

    December 30 2011


    New Zealand First says the Attorney General cannot claim court costs from a free lance cameraman over the teacup tape court case because the case does not involve the government – just the National and Act parties.

    Rt. Hon Winston Peters says legal wires have been crossed by the case because it was mistakenly taken up by the government’s own legal system when it should have simply involved lawyers for John Key and John Banks.

    “This case happened during an election campaign when the National Party leader met an Act party candidate to stitch up a deal for the Epsom electorate. It had nothing to do with an affair of state or anything related to the office of prime minister.

    What has happened is that the National Party, acting for political purposes, is using taxpayer resources to have a fight with a private citizen.

    This is abuse of power and it is also illegal.

    Our advice to the cameraman is to ignore the Attorney General’s demand for court costs and to make a claim himself against John Key and John Banks, who in this matter are simply private citizens.” says Mr. Peters.

    • Colonial Viper 20.1

      Its holidays but Winston is definitely not on holiday! Unless he simply considers this summer time sports…

  21. Pundit X 21

    Author: Bobby Jr

    “I do not like seeing the media being manipulated either as there is such a thing as freedom of speech and I believe it is the job of the media to report the FACTS without favour or bias.”

    So WTF are you arguing about…

  22. Pundit X 22

    Author: Bobby Jr

    As it stands however we’re dealing with the mainstream media who few could debate often excuse themselves from operating ethically or having any honour in direct correlation to the sauciness of a story. And it seems half of NZ (well, 27% at least) have taken the bait and think ‘poor Mr Ambrose, little guy being given the beat-up by the mean National people.’

    Bobby you now appear to be arguing in an empty room…There is no evidence to suggest Ambrose behaved in any other way than in a completely professional manner. He is being beaten up end of story. I personally hope that once the police find in his favour the recording will be released in the public interest.

    • deuto 22.1

      Pundit X, I havew just popped on here briefly before hitting the sack after a very long day. But just wanted to say that having quickly read your comments above, I totally agree with your perspective that Ambrose has possibly ended up quite unintentionally as the “reluctant hero”. . I am very disturbed by what has happened and is happening in this case, and really feel that the whole situation is quite bizarre. Pleased to see Winnie in on the act, regardless of his motivations.

    • Bobby Jr 22.2

      @Pundit X – While that may be the case, there is also no evidence that he didn’t deliberately put the microphone there. All we have is his denial. I think that’d run pretty thin with the people who think they’ve been wronged by him.

      So far as the tapes ever being released, I agree – I hope they come out too – dying to know what’s on them. In any case, there is no doubt at all they will get released ‘somehow’. They simply wont stay private forever given how many people claim to have heard them. Key trying to stop it is pointless, he could only delay it. So, he’s getting beaten up – when you do what he did and the people involved are suspicious it was deliberate – which should be the default assumption with the media these days – I’ve got no doubt some people might want to not take it lying down. Unfortunate for him but these things are bound to happen when you accidentally covertly record a Nation’s leader – regardless of where they are or who they’re speaking to.

      • McFlock 22.2.1

        So, if we make the (doubtful) assumption that the conversation between two people in a cafe was reasonably regarded as private, your position is that the camera operator has to prove his innocence (oh, and my understanding is that he deliberately placed the microphone along with everyone else – the question is whether he intentionally left it there and recorded the feed from the mic while knowing it was a private communication)?
         Careful, your totalitarianism is showing.

        • Bobby Jr

          @McFlock – The topics of whether it was a public conversation or not, and that of whether it was a covert recording are not the same topic really. They overlap at some point for sure but only a truly partisan person would argue that covert recording of someone in public is moral or ethical. You go up and talk to someone randomly in the street and record the conversation secretly. Can you broadcast that conversation? How about using an eaves-dropping device? Or planting a microphone in a pot-plant near them? Are these situations all open season since they’re in public? Because that’s basically what is being argued by many here.

          Deliberate or not, the recording was done covertly. The shooing away of media, the location, the incompetence of the PM’s minders etc don’t change the fact it was a covert recording one bit.
          A fair few people don’t want to consider this because they seem focussed only on the press freedom/Govt giving cameraman a beatdown line of thinking. Does anyone here have any previous president on dissemination/legality of accidental covert recordings? That should be the key question we’re asking here – with relation to the media who were involved especially – long before we get to the whole court costs, defamation, content of the tapes conversation.

          I totally agree with what you are saying with regards to the cameraman and proving innocence – the onus should be on the accuser for sure. In this case however it would be impossible to ever prove without an admission. But, if you did it on a balance of probabilities the call seems to lie not with any particular pieces evidence, rather a purely ‘do you love or ate Key?’ line in the sand. Here Key is basically despised and no amount of evidence/likelihoods will change views on this. Everyone likes to consider themselves beyond reproach when it comes to impartiality and having a thoughtful, worldly overview of situations but the reality is people here are at least as biased as WhaleOil etc fanboys, just in the opposite direction – a myopia which wouldn’t change even if Ambrose came forward and said “I did it all”. The tune would merely change to ‘they paid him off.’

          Explain this situation to someone who knows nothing about it and I guarantee you will get asked: “he did it deliberately didn’t he?”. There’s a good reason too, because people think alike and recognise potential cunning when they see it.

          • Colonial Viper

            Nice irrelevant lawyerish finery. Weren’t you complaining about that a day or two ago.

            I totally agree with what you are saying with regards to the cameraman and proving innocence – the onus should be on the accuser for sure. In this case however it would be impossible to ever prove without an admission.

            Yet Ambrose is being charged $14K. Why did the Government choose to do this?

            Explain this situation to someone who knows nothing about it and I guarantee you will get asked: “he did it deliberately didn’t he?”. There’s a good reason too, because people think alike and recognise potential cunning when they see it.

            Fuck off you dreamy pumpkin.

            You somehow think that people will recognise the cunning by Ambrose and not notice that Prime Minister John Key had a security detail which accidentally and mysteriously left the mic on the table next to the PM in an anonymous black bag (how did they know that it didn’t contain a grenade?) and that afterwards the PM subsequently used every trick in the book to turn the set up cafe event into an election stunt, even staging a media walk out?!

            Do you think people noticed that Prime Ministerial; “cunning”, mate?

            • Bobby Jr

              @Colonial Viper. Most of what happened that day with regards to the PM and his security detail can probably be put down to plain old incompetence. They had nothing to gain. The same can’t be said of Ambrose.

              • Colonial Viper

                I don’t see how former SAS and anti-terrorist squad members accidentally missed an odd looking black bag resting next to the PM. Do you? You would happily believe that is incomeptence, but can’t believe that Ambrose accidentally left the tape running after being shooed outside in a hurry.

                How selective of you.

          • RedLogix

            Deliberate or not, the recording was done covertly.

            It was a political event at which two of the more prominent politicians in the country had invited dozens of media. Nothing in that context can be considered private or covert.

            Neither Key nor Banks are private individuals. What they say is of inherent public interest.

            The event was intended to be openly recorded for public broadcast.

            Merely ‘shooing away’ the crowd of media, while there were still many people remaining within close earshot scarcely denotes that you are about to have a confidential, private conversation. In such a setting Ambrose’s recording can hardly be characterised as ‘covert’… it could be fairly described as ‘unintended’ or that Key and Banks were ‘unaware’ that they were being recorded.

            But that is really their problem; not Ambrose’s.

            Everyone likes to consider themselves beyond reproach when it comes to impartiality and having a thoughtful, worldly overview of situations but the reality is people here are at least as biased

            And when Shane Jones was pinged for watching pornos in his own bedroom… just how high do you think ‘privacy’ concerns ranked among the right-wing fanboys then?

            • Bobby Jr

              @RedLogix. The microphone was concealed in a bag. Whether Ambrose tried to get in and retrieve it or not the recording was done without the knowledge of Key/Banks or their minders (initially at least). That cannot be anything other than “covert”. Even Ambrose would concede that point. The issues really are whether the setting was a) public or private, and b) whether it was recorded deliberately or not. Ambrose says he didn’t do it deliberately but that point doesn’t matter at this stage because he’s asked the court to decide whether the scenario was public. If it WAS public then recording deliberately or accidentally shouldn’t be an issue if we use the standards being debated by most here. So, as Ambrose knows and his lawyers advised, he asked for the setting to be ruled on by the court which it wasn’t for whatever reason – time-frame, lack of evidence, right wing meddling etc depending on what you want to believe.

              The tapes will come out – there is no doubt about that at all. And the best situation really would have been to rip the band-aid off quickly and get it over and done with (assuming something really dodgy wasn’t being discussed). As it is Ambrose seems to be the sorry pawn between the left and right wing hardcore crews, each debating whatever suits their fancy to get kudos on their respective blogs/boards. If they courts come back saying it was not public all that will result in is a “Nats telling judges what to decide” hooha. They basically can’t win at anything whatsoever until Key is crying on TV resigning from office (sic).

              • RedLogix

                The microphone was concealed in a bag.

                Again you are choosing to use a perogative term for something that may well have been perfectly innocent.

                PunditX may well have a more informed view, but I would have thought it quite normal for photojournalists to use bags for their equipment. The microphone may well have been ‘concealed’ from Key and Banks point of view, but there is no evidence that Ambrose intended it to place it in such a fashion.

                Besides it was a pretty clunky ‘concealment’… in a bag in plain view on the top of the table. If Ambrose had stuck a ‘bug’ to the underside of the table, then I’d agree it was a concealed microphone. But even then Key and Banks would have had poor excuse for saying stupid things in such a public and open setting.

                The issues really are whether the setting was a) public or private, and b) whether it was recorded deliberately or not.

                I agree with the first point, but I’d suggest that the second is a non-essential distraction. The fact is that recording exists and everyone knows that; motive is hardly relevant anymore.

                • Treetop

                  “The issues really are whether the setting was a) public or private, or b) whether it was recorded deliberately or not?”

                  a) Publication is only illegal if publisher knows the interception was illegal. No one can now know that because s215 only applies to private conversations and we are in legal limbo on whether the teapot conversation was private.

                  If the conversation is deemed to be private publication is illegal. If the conversation is deemed to be public publication is legal.

                  b) When I read that an individual is allegedly being held responsible for partaking in a so called covert taping I have to ask: Who is responsible for what Key and Banks said during their conversation in a publc place where the media was present?

                  Ambrose did not make Key or Banks say anything when Key and Banks knowingly knew that they were doing a publicity stunt and that there was an invited audience.

                  Did Key and Banks stipulate why they asked the media to leave if it was either of them, or whoever did this, stipulate why?

                  The motive could have been for Key and Banks to have been the only focus as this would have looked better on camera footage as the cameras were allowed to roll while they were conversing.

                  Key and Banks knowingly knew they were being filmed. Say the FBI received a copy of the footage and provided a transcript: Would this be deemed as a private conversation?

          • McFlock

            only a truly partisan person would argue that covert recording of someone in public is moral or ethical.

            Nobody is arguing that here. The issue is legality (when that coincides with morality it is generally a happy coincidence).
            Others have addressed the remainder of your irrelevancies. Getting a wee bit slippery there, aren’t you.

            • Treetop

              I want to know why the media were asked to move and who asked them to move and where they were told to move to?

  23. Pundit X 23

    @ Bobby Jr.

    “While that may be the case, there is also no evidence that he didn’t deliberately put the microphone there. All we have is his denial. I think that’d run pretty thin with the people who think they’ve been wronged by him.”

    We tend to judge others by our moral criteria.. on that basis judging from your posts thus far I’d your one of the most cunning shits I’ve encountered for a while.. I think I’m probably the only photojournalist contributing to this debate. And I’m certain Bobby Jr that you have never ever been under the pressure that Ambrose would have been under working in a pack trying to get the best angle, keeping track of his gear etc. In situations like that and especially for a newbie like Ambrose its easy to leave gear behind – we’ve all done it. Not just mikes, I left The Times 300mm lens at the Reagan Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik. Another colleague at the Times left his bag of lenses on the runway at RAF Brize Norton when flying to Iraq with the then PM John Major. The number of mikes, assorted cables, lenses, lens caps, hoods that I’ve seen left behind at photo ops just like this one as the dash to meet deadline overcomes all else is the stuff of legend. I can well believe Ambrose because those of us who work in the profession have all done it..

    You on the other keep picking away at your assertion in the hope that somehow your ‘little’ big lie will stick and we’ll question Ambrose’s character. What a cunning shit you are..

    • Bobby Jr 23.1

      @Pundit X. Ummm… Oddly nasty post there but if you have experience with these things then I guess it means you are in a better position to comment on the specifics of gear management etc. As for pressure situations, that’s sort of besides the point here. The “under pressure” line could just as simply be part of the reverse-engineered defence when caught doing something dodgy.

      [A fair point Bobby. While blog commenting is traditionally a robust pastime, after a while most people learn that being nasty, mean or absusive…. just because you can… is usually a distraction from the discussion. And thus counterproductive.

      But we’ve all done it, and most times it’s a moment of passion, anger or frustration at not being heard that prompts it. Usually I only moderate when the negative consistently outweighs the positive in a commenters behaviour.

      So far both you and PunditX are going at it just fine.. remember everyone expresses a view and feelings built on their own unique experience of life. When honestly expressed I’m always willing to forgive much. RL]

      • Pundit X 23.1.1

        Nasty Bobby, when you repeatedly insinuate that Ambrose deliberately flouted privacy law as a media professional without a scintilla of evidence. The word cunning is one you have used to describe Ambrose. The word shit as a description of your personal ethics I’ll retract and leave others to form their own opinion of someone who resorts to baseless allegation for political gain…

        • Bobby Jr

          @Pundit X. You have less knowledge of my personal ethics or morals than we do of Ambrose. We have only each other’s comments to go on. As someone famous said ‘what you say about me says more about you than it does of me’. If what I suggest about Ambrose somehow shows who I am and my ethics then I’d love to know what your hurling abuse at me says about you.

          As the moderator, RL (Rex?)[RL = RedLogix], has commented above, everyone expresses a view and feelings built on their own unique experience of life. I try never to abuse people who don’t agree with me even if I am having a debate on something and wouldn’t say anything here I wouldn’t say to someone/you in person. I’d hope you could also separate the debate from the person. I’m not painting all media as unethical but on the same token, suggesting all operate ethically is also folly.

          In suggesting Ambrose did what happened deliberately I don’t have no evidence at all. Much of the evidence which exists is still open for debate and plenty of it, especially what he did after the fact with the tape, could easily indicate he is not the accidental hero some think he is at all. In the least it could throw his professional ethics into some doubt. As I’ve said above though, ethics is often quite a fluid concept to the media these days.

          • Pundit X

            Your quite right Bobby I don’t know you personally from a bar of soap. The side of your character displayed on this thread is of a man who has spent the last two days determined to impugn another man’s professional integrity having never met him and with no knowledge of the industry in which he works. At this late stage in my life not knowing you is a loss I’m prepared to bear..

            • Colonial Viper

              Odd that Bobby is spending so much time and effort in the smear campaign.

              All I want is to hear what Banks and Key said about their post election plans for the country.

              As NZ citizens we are entitled to that.

              • RedLogix

                There’s no point in getting personal about it CV. The guy has made his case diligently with an almost lawyerly thoroughness. He’s explored every angle and given it his best shot.

                And he’s been polite about it. Can’t really ask for more.

                • You are right there RL.  

                  Of course the fundamental flaw with his analysis is that the discussion took place in public in a busy cafe where the media had been invited and where there were probably more digital recording devices per square meter than anywhere else in the country.

                  Doesn’t stop him arguing the point.

                  But the real point is what did Key say and why aren’t we entitled to know this?

                • Pundit X

                  Yes RL, Bobby Jr does appear to be the most reasoned RWNJ I’ve encountered for some time. A disingenuous apparently reasoned sophistry even if it does ignore all the facts presented is not something you find on Cameron Slater’s blog. But don’t forget it was all employed to Impugn Ambrose’s integrity. And I think we can ask for more, we can ask why its more important to trash Ambrose than to know what was said in the conversation between Banks and Key. You have the floor BobbyJr..

  24. seeker 24

    @ Bobby jnr

    You wrote at 3.01am today:

    “Deliberate or not, the recording was done covertly. The shooing away of media, the location, the incompetence of the PM’s minders etc don’t change the fact it was a covert recording one bit.

    I wrote this, as you can see, on Nov23 when commenting on the thread of Eddie’s post “Tea Tape Judgement”. I think it shows that your theorisings are in correct. sorry I don’t have a link to the news reports but I have pointed you to the date.

    seeker 21.3
    23 November 2011 at 5:26 pm

    @ Freedom 3.28pm

    “my decision turns upon the inadequacy of the evidentiary material before me to reach such a view,”

    “It is judicial manipulation of public interest and nothing will change my mind on that.”

    “Maybe you are right, because when the tapes are scrutinised ( I recorded both news channels on this last night) one can see someone quickly clearing Key’s table of objects saying ‘take your mikes’ or something, but they leave that now infamous ‘black bag’ on the table.

    This, I thought, showed
    a) the bag being there was not solely down to Ambrose and
    b) they (security) couldn’t have been too worried about ‘privacy’ if they did not clear the table properly.

    Further, Ambrose asked if he could go and get his bag, so it shows he was probably at the back and didn’t hear what was said when the place was cleared.It seemed to be very spontaneous and hurried clearing, and a bit of a scrum.

    At least he tried to go and get his bag and so ‘clear the table properly, but he was denied access, so was not trying to purposefully ‘tape’ the two Johns.

    It also shows that as Ambrose had needed to ask, if he wanted get his expensive belonging back, that it was there before he left and had not been retrieved and/or given back to him as some one had done in camera sight with other ‘blackish ,baggy’ belongings I saw removed from the table.

    This whole mess is because John Key says one thing in public and apparently another thing, in what amounts to ‘under his breath’, which he calls ‘private’ when he means ‘two faced’ and does not like being caught out about it(who would)

    The other reason for the ‘police’ aspect of this horror mess (especially for a probably pretty ‘innocent of purposefully recording’ said ‘duplicitous’ remarks by John and John, Ambrose) is Stephen ‘call the police’ Joyce.

    I am sure the judge could have seen ‘the clearing of bags from the table by a ‘security’ person on the video recording. I don’t think I am wrong about this .I watched it twice last night.”

    I hope you can find this news item Bobby Jnr. I’m still looking, but wanted to post this to you asap so you might
    perhaps find a little peace of mind.

    • Bobby Jr 24.1

      @Seeker. Nice one, thanks for posting. If we take Ambrose at his word that it didn’t happen then isn’t it fair also that the default assumption should be that Joyce and others had no part in swaying the court’s decision or the AG’s pursuit of costs – as has been clearly implied many times? The standards being offered to Ambrose under the “lack of proof” defence seem to be conveniently thin on the ground when it suits the story to have them not be the case for others.

      • Colonial Viper 24.1.1

        Dont have to take anyone “at their word” mate, lets get a court to examine all the evidence and the events which took place.

        Then maybe we can all listen to the recording of the Key and Banks were planning post-election. Its in the national interest.

  25. deuto 26

    Again today, the Herald focuses on this issue in a well-reasoned editorial IMO.


    On 1 January, they also carried an item, which I had missed, on the police investigation. It appears that most of the investigation to date has been carried out in Wellington and the case has only recently been passed to Auckland. Apparently Ambrose is to be “invited” to an interview; but they are interviewing others first, many of whom are away at present. I would have thought that Ambrose would be one of the first to be interviewed, but the processes of the police in such investigations is sometimes something of a mystery……


    • seeker 26.1

      Thanks for the links Deuto,and Anne above. Might have been a well reasoned editorial Deuto, but did you see the number of poorly reasoned comments (imo) against Ambrose? Really disheartening. Likewise the comments on Anne’s link.

      I think The Herald should link to this thread and then ask for comments to see if their commenters have changed to a more reasoned stance. Especially with pertinent comments like Graeme Edgelers @ 2.2:

      “If you want to make a point, it might be better to ask why this involved the PM, and not the Leader of the National Party. This might be the far better argument. It was political and not governmental, so arguably John Key should have been paying for this himself. ”

      They could also publish Winston’s comments on this situation which might usefully contribute to people’s understanding.

      * the comments might have been more heartening later on but I only had the patience to read up to page 5 before my heart rate rose to epic proportions.

  26. Bobby Jr 27

    Having just heard the tape on youtube (someone leaked it I guess) it seems a little amusing Ambrose said he didn’t know the conversation was intended to be private or that he didn’t hear journalists being asked to leave – the tape has someone asking them move on in the first minute. Ambrose would have heard that when he first listened to the tape.

    So, let’s revisit his assertion that he thinks the conversation was public. It may not have been clear while he was recording but it certainly would have been apparent within the first minute of listening to the recording.

  27. Pundit X 28

    According to Ambrose he didn’t listen to the recording until he got back to the Herald so could not have heard those remarks on the tape until the event was over. If anyone apart from Bobby Jr is still interested here’s the link.

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