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Police delay searches

Written By: - Date published: 1:15 pm, November 21st, 2011 - 43 comments
Categories: election 2011, Media, police - Tags: ,

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.

For a plainspoken view from NewsTalk Chief Political Reporter Felix Marwick see his blog.  And anyone who thinks the legal issues are easy should take a read of Seven Price’s Media Law Journal:

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.

Key says this was a "private" meeting...

43 comments on “Police delay searches”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Good on the police although I still think they should have asked that question themselves rather than leaving it to the prospective defendant.

    If the publishergenuinely thinks the cameraman didn’t intend to intercept it, it’s hard to see how the publisher can be convicted.

    For the publishers there’s also the public interest. Two politicians talking about their plans for the country is in the public interest and that should outweigh any privacy concerns.

  2. Matthew Hooton 2

    Fantastic news. Raiding media offices is a step way too far by the police , and I am sure they can investigate the Prime Minister’s complaint without taking this step. It is the sort of thing that would have been expected under the Clark regime and I hope the police won’t behave this way under the more liberal environment Mr Key has fostered since his election.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      It is the sort of thing that would have been expected under the Clark regime

      Although in reality it almost occurred under Key’s watch, and at Key’s instigation.

    • r0b 2.2

      This from the unhinged loon who once accused Clark of planning to “abolish the free press”.

    • Geez Matthew, more typos than Herald item. Fixed for you but:

      It is the sort of thing that is happening under the Key regime would have been expected under the Clark regime and I hope the police won’t behave this way despite the facist anti-democratic under the more liberal environment Mr Key has fostered since his election

      Maybe Matthew the police are just getting a little tired of covering up for National in Epsom?

      There’s this cover up.
      There’s the Richard Worth cover up – remember police and health professionals who attended the incident that caused Worth to be sacked without explanation – they know what happened.
      There’s the incident they have video evidence of that’s being covered up too.

      My guess is they’re getting a little tired of covering stuff up for the PM.

    • This from the man referred to in “the Hollow Men” as an idiot.

    • willie maley 2.5

      Just don’t rise to the bait.

      • ianmac 2.5.1

        Pretty transparent isn’t he willie. I was waiting to see if he could twist it into a continuation of his 9 to noon rant about Winston. Lost that bet.

        • Tom Gould 2.5.1.1

          The cops backed off because the Tories didn’t want live TV coverage of the raid. It would look way too fascist. Best leave it to next week.

    • Tigger 2.6

      Matt, that’s surely one of the deadest rats you’ve ever had to swallow. Your man started this, he’s the reason for it, he’s the one slamming democracy like a cheap hooker and you’re left with nothing to do but go ‘Helen was worse’? Really, that’s fucked and shitty and I imagine it killed you to have nothing better to say over it.

      Key has us looking like a fascist state. Don’t know anyone overseas who isn’t laughing at us right now. And laughing at you for having to spin such pathetic lines.

    • mik e 2.7

      Liberal control of the media by berlusconi type tactics
      Mad
      Hatter

    • newsense 2.8

      Matt you are a dick. But you didn’t need me to tell you that, you must get it a lot.

      ‘regime’.pah.

      How can you afford to take time out from scaring all the good people about our Italian Stallion? Look out the real protege of Muldoon is knocking on the doot. You might just wish you didn’t have so many lads running around playing at being Piggie.

      Why don’t you go on the radio and say that the cameraman was part of a preplanned Herald on Sunday sting?

  3. Blue 3

    Sounds like the police have wised up to the fact that no crime has been committed, and that they are wasting their time on this.

  4. interesting.
    maybe police don’t just sit around all day waiting for something to do like Key suggested, maybe they are actually quite busy dealing with crime and stuff.

    • Hami Shearlie 4.1

      They’re busy alright, quite unlike Key’s 25 bodyguards who guard him so well from terrorists and nz first supporters (disguised as little old ladies, of course), that they don’t notice a humungous black pouch sitting directly under his fairly large schnozz, eh Sprouty??

  5. Adrian 5

    Where is that story? The promised expose, or have Banks et al done themselves enough damage? Twisting the knife would be good fun tho.

  6. What I would like to know is why the Police arn’t arresting Michael Laws for advocating the mass shooting of journalists?
     
    The guy is unhinged.  Fancy saying that on a National Radio station?  The police will not even need to get a warrant, just listen to a recording and they will have all the evidence they need.

    • Ianupnorth 6.1

      He blackmailed those with 7% spare time with donuts – reinforcing non-existant stereotypes!
       
      They don’t want a putrid smell in their cells, the likes that would surround Laws.

    • Roy 6.2

      Does Laws have a firearms licence? Because the police do tend to ask family members, when inspecting the properties of holders of firearms licences, about such threats. Uplifting his firearms licence could be a good way for the cops to kick Laws where he deserves to be kicked.

  7. It is crystal clear that Banks and Key could have been eavesdropped on and parts of the conversation could have been repeated. However when there is evidence on tape of what they discussed this cannot be denied.

    What would Key and Banks have both said had an eavesdropper revealed what Peters has revealed about the tape?

  8. Tiger Mountain 8

    On the face of it the fuzz have made a good call here, as long as NZ Police command made that call rather than National Party tacticians.

    Yes Laws statement is a shocker. Inciteful speech does sometimes have real world results as we saw during Muldoon’s tenure with the Wellington Trades Hall bombing. Laws should at least be spoken to by police and I’d like to see him stood down from the radio show until a satisfactory explanation is obtained. Which would be rather unlikely, so sack him.

  9. Ianupnorth 9

    Let’s consider the blond hair lady behind Key – she might have had a cellphone that could pick up the conversation. Does she get raided too, her phone checked, etc.

  10. Anne 10

    Judging from the Radio NZ interview with the HoS chief editor this morning, it’s not so much what Banks and Key said but rather the derogatory tone of their voices. That would explain Key’s desperate desire to stop the tape from airing before the election.

    • Tiger Mountain 10.1

      That’s why the actual recording should be released rather than just a transcript if against all odds the Ambrose hearing determines no illegality. Of course other legal twists could then come into play, the decision could be kicked to touch till after the election, an out of court cash settlement might prohibit the recording ever being aired and so on.

      • Treetop 10.1.1

        If no illegality re Ambrose:

        Will Goff ask for an inquiry to establish if an illegality between police and executive?

        Inquiry can still go ahead even if legality found as I want to know if Collins was ever briefed about Ambrose considering he was not charged with anything?

    • Do you have a link to the interview perhaps

      • felix 10.2.1

        [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20111121-0718-media_organisations_prepare_for_imminent_police_search-048.mp3" /]

        • travellerev 10.2.1.1

          Oi thanks F, You’re a prince!

        • mike 10.2.1.2

          So he’s saying they were confident that they were in the right both ethically and legally. And that the contents are compelling, i.e. clearly there’s enough public interest, so privacy concerns are superceded anyway. But they didn’t release because Key and Banks said no? Pussy.

          As someone else here posted if this had happened in the UK once they had established legality the media would have been falling over themselves to release it. Asking permission? Wtf?

          • Blue 10.2.1.2.1

            Even the tabloid papers here are substandard. How can they hold their heads up as scandal-mongers if they turn down the biggest scoop of the year?

            The HOS has no balls, but I was hoping that TV3 at least would run it.

    • conorjoe 10.3

      oh to hear the sneer

    • mike 10.4

      Agreed Anne. Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. I’m guessing this tape shows a different John Key than the smile and wave version we usually get. One that undermines the facade, something that sociopaths are paranoid about protecting. Being so brazen as to speak with his nasty voice with a dozen cameras watching thinking he’s safe behind a glass wall is exactly what a deviant like Key would get a kick out of.

      For someone who is supposedly “not bothered” about the contents of his “bland” conversation, Key sure has pulled out all the stops to prevent this tape from coming out. Just the sort of “I can get away with anything” over-reaction you’d expect from a sociopath. To the point that we get international “gosh John Key is behaving a wee bit like a controlling dictator” news coverage.

      If this whole thing turns out to be a stunt to distract media attention from the real issues that’s even worse. Let’s see, so far he’s insulted the phone-hacking victims, families of suicide victims, Epsom voters, the police, and victims of unsolved crime. Oh yeah he’s doing it because he’s a man of principles. Haha not buying.

    • Dr Terry 10.5

      You make a very good point Anne, which had not occurred to me. “The derogatory tone”. I think that is exactly it, that all so familiar tone from both persons, Key and Banks (only Banks is more stupid even than his pal!)

  11. Janice 11

    I bet the High Court decision into the illegality of the tapes is reserved until next week.

    • freedom 11.1

      can they decalre the judgement supressed due to the complainant’s right to privacy?

      imagine it, court says its a public tape and suppresses the finding due to privacy :]

    • mik e 11.2

      That would mean no search warrants till next week which would give more time for tapes to leak

  12. hoom 12

    The picture says it all.
    There is an open door right next to Key with a recording TV camera within 1m of his head.
    Impossible to argue that this was in any way a conversation where they had a reasonable expectation to not be overheard unless they are both mentally and/or physically impaired to an extent that would disqualify them from being able to drive let alone run the country.
     
    But hey, its a dinammic environment & Key wasn’t even at the meeting…

  13. Penny Bright 13

    Does anyone know what time the Bradley Ambrose High Court case is starting tomorrow?
    Am keen to go along and have a squiz.

    Penny Bright
    Independent Candidate for Epsom

    [email deleted]

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