In what seems a very wise move, police are holding off their searches of four media organisations until the legal situation has been clarified.
Police delay enforcing search warrants over teapot tape
Police are holding off enforcing search warrants on four media organisations until after a High Court hearing on Tuesday.
Freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose is seeking a ruling in the Auckland court over whether a conversation between National Party leader John Key and ACT’s candidate for Epsom John Banks was private or not. …
Police have warrants to search Radio New Zealand, APN, which owns the Herald on Sunday, TV3 and Television New Zealand for material relating to the tea tapes controversy. They want any information the organisations hold relating to the conversation between Mr Key and Mr Banks.
A spokesperson for the police says they have advised the media outlets that they will wait for Mr Ambrose’s case in the High Court before executing the search warrants.
The application of the law isn’t especially clear – Andrew Geddis, Dean Knight and I have been arguing about it all week. It’s not “illegal to record” someone who doesn’t know they’re being recorded. For a start, a party to the conversation can secretly record it and not breach the Crimes Act. More relevantly, that recording must be intentional. That’s very much a live issue here, since Bradley Ambrose adamantly denies it.
In addition, it’s not illegal to publish without consent. It must be proved that the publisher knew that it was illegally intercepted. If it was unintentional, the recording was legal and anyone can disclose it without breaching the Crimes Act. If the publishergenuinely thinks the cameraman didn’t intend to intercept it, it’s hard to see how the publisher can be convicted.
Finally, much of the debate turns on whether Key and Banks ought reasonably to have expected that no-one could overhear them. The answer to that is not straightforward…
I’ll leave you with this image.