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The limits to tolerance of the police

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, December 16th, 2008 - 64 comments
Categories: activism, police - Tags: , ,

PoliceOn discovering that her boyfriend had been spying on her and her friends for the police, and the consequent violations of her expectation of privacy, my niece Rochelle had quite enough tolerance of the police. That is sufficient cause to get seriously annoyed, and it is generally unwise to seriously annoy geeks. So she has invaded the privacy of her spy and his police handlers.

Rochelle says

I made a decision that my priority had to be to get everything I could, prove everything I could, and do everything I could to prevent the police doing what they did again.

I flew down to Christchurch and installed spyware on Rob Gilchrist’s phone to monitor his phone calls and text messages, and a script on his computer to continue sending his emails to me. I also downloaded the past 12 months of his phone bills from telecom, and managed to decrypt documents in his emails that had been encrypted.

In effect she had access to a large amount of the ongoing and past dialogue between Rob and his police handlers. This makes some of the statements made by Howard Broad in the last few days somewhat hilarious. He badly needs to get on top of what his officers are doing, if only because otherwise Rochelle can tell him.

Since she became a peaceful activist for animal rights trying to work within our supposed democracy, Rochelle has spent a lot of time in court on mainly spurious charges. She has been remarkably tolerant of the police on the advice from family and friends, who have been advising her that living without them would be worse. However over the years that tolerance wears down.

The police reaction to me as a protester has been completely and utterly over the top. They have intruded into my life more than I could ever have expected was possible. It felt good to feel like I was giving some of it back. This whole thing is like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, not something that happens in the real world.

What she is referring to are charges like “intimidation by loitering”. This was brought for noisily protesting in front of a shop that was selling factory farmed fur. On appeal, after a couple of years and $30k in defense costs, the judge concluded that protesting was not loitering. The question of intimidation was never really looked at on the appeal apart from counting the few seconds that her camera had caught the store keeper in frame. In my opinion the charge was only brought so that the Threats Assessment Unit (TAU) could obtain a search warrant to grab her computers and cameras for intelligence gathering.

There has been a lot of talk around the media and the blogs over the past days about the role of political protest in our democracy. Well some police appear to have a different idea to most of the commentary. To them trying to raise a different point of view means that you are a target for the excesses of some crazies in the police who obviously have over-active imaginations. Who better to quote on the subject than Ross Muerant talking about the Oct 15 raids. Ross was in the Red Squad during the 1981 springbok tour before becoming a politician.

As I look at it now I can see that I had been brainwashed to the extent that I actually believed the nonsense that we were producing out of the police. The information we were getting in and the decisions we were reaching were too subjective. There was no man on the clapham bus sitting outside and looking in and saying ‘Is this a reasonable conclusion to draw based on the information you have collected’.

So when the current commissioner of police Howard Broad said on his appointment

New Police Commissioner Howard Broad cannot recall another time in his 30-year career when there has been so much bad publicity about the police and says he is committed to restoring public confidence.

he wasn’t wrong.

I’d suggest that the commissioner looks at what level of confidence is generated by having out of control police intimidating and spying on peaceful activists. Not only does it affect the people targeted. It also affects their family and friends who then spread the word. It clogs the courts with police bringing charges as a way of harassing of activists (which regularly get dropped or fail to achieve conviction), and misusing their powers to charge to obtain search warrants. It has a chilling effect on the process of peaceful democratic change. Moreover it is a waste of my taxes.

I’d suggest to the commissioner that the main problem is with controlling your more paranoid sworn officers abusing their powers. They bring the reputation of the police into disrepute through campaigns of active intimidation against activists trying to bring about peaceful change. It is something that can and should only be done within the police.

I’m sure that there are activists who will assist in the required changes as Rochelle is. Take the opportunity.

[lprent: Apparently the police don’t like us using their logo. So it has been changed to a more evocative image. Thanks to SP for finding the right one.]

64 comments on “The limits to tolerance of the police”

  1. Rex Widerstrom 1

    Assist how, Lynn? If you’re suggesting a Police Watchdog group, count me in. After all, as was mentioned on the McVicar thread today, the media love flitting from one extreme to the other and calling it “balance”. But there’s no one to balance the police view.

    Civil Liberties groups are either growing weak through protesting and getting nowhere, or are so thinly stretched across so many outrages (I’m not sure which) their voice is rarely heard.

    I’d also encourage Rochelle to just dump everything she has onto the web. My experience is that you don’t get any credit for “tolerating” the police, so you might as well stand up and make some noise.

  2. vidiot 2

    I’m not a lawyer, but Rochelle might want to seek some advice with regards to her probable breaches of Section 249 & 252 of the Crimes act.

    249 Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose
    252 Accessing computer system without authorisation

    Her actions to date could well come to bite her in the arse in the future.

    [lprent: So? It is better to be done for something that you did actually do rather than getting done by police making the damn charges up (to obtain a search warrant).

    Oh and tell me exactly why she should be concerned with Rob’s privacy?]

  3. Daveski 3

    I must admit I was interested in the actions that Rochelle took and the possible breaches that could be inferred.

    Utility companies won’t let you near an account unless you are an authorised signatory …even if the payments are coming out of our joint account!

  4. So she has taken the law into her own hands?

    I hope people who are fed up with taggers and vandals are now allowed to do the same,

    If she was being spied on that is wrong, but for her to admit that she knowingly broke the law, well she is going to have to face the justice system, I hope she gets a good lawyer, and if she is found guilty it will seem it will now be hard for her to go on overseas trips and such.

    Best of luck to her.


    [lprent: Ummm so you condone having the police and their informants break peoples expectation of privacy, but would disapprove of it being done to them? You really are a bit of a prig aren’t you?

    Besides, can you imagine the media circus if there were charges brought?]

  5. Tane 5

    Interesting to see the right’s response on this thread.

    Rochelle’s actions were entirely reasonable under the circumstances – a serious abuse of police power and major intrusion into her privacy. Her counter-surveillance has done a service to our democracy and showed great courage on her part. Well done, Rochelle.

    The police would not dare try and charge her with anything given the above. They’ve taken a big enough PR hit as it is.

  6. Corfu Kid 6

    Would that be the same Rochelle Rees who was elected in 2007 as Young Labour Auckland / Northland Rep?

    The same Rochelle Rees who was a candidate for City Vision in the local body elections and endorsed by the Labour affiliated EPMU as a preferred candidate. ?

    The same Rochelle Rees who google-bombed John Key? And then claimed she was unaffiliated with any political party?

    Evidently she still believes that working outside of the law to further her own agenda is entirely appropriate. Little surprise that the police might consider her a person of interest to them…

    [lprent: Ah – explain to me where exactly she broke the ‘law’ in ANY of the above? There is no crime in google-bombing, it just takes skill and patience.]

  7. IrishBill 7

    I wasn’t aware that any of the things mentioned in your first three paras are illegal.

  8. Quoth the Raven 8

    Brett – just like all those pesky partisans fighting the you know who in world war 2 or the anti-apartheid activists or anti-slavery activists before them. You should never fight the powers that be. Harsher sentences for the Mandelas of this world. Only in your mind is killing a tagger comparable to taking on the system.

  9. She may have breached the law, but I would submit that it would be a spectacularly messy prosecution to bring. The police really would not want it.

  10. Billy 10

    Periodically (not that often, I live a very full life) I reflect on why it is usually the left that gets excited about these issues, rather than the right.

    We on the right are the ones who are concerned with the state intruding in our lives and restricting our freedom.

    If you think that the state should be managing everything (I know, for the good of the greatest number) then how do you expect the state to do that without breaking a few eggs?

    It is kind of depressing to see the righties here defending the police. We shouldn’t be.

  11. Camryn 11

    Billy – Exactly. It’s flavours of “rightness” I guess, and many are ‘status quo’ conservatives as opposed to those who instead prioritize liberty.

    What I’m saying is that authoritarian tenancies aren’t the exclusive preserve of the right, but since we live in a primarily free market capitalist system at the moment (as far as I can tell) it’s tempting for many who like that system to try to utilize authority to unfairly extend their own personal power, and reaction against that improper action becomes associated with the left. In the Soviet Union, the primary benefactors used extreme authoritarian methods to preserve their way of life in the same way, and many of the defenders of liberty were rightists.

    So, it can go either way… but my view is that once anyone starts using power to constrain liberty rather than protect it then they’re not a good leftie or a good rightie.

  12. Daveski 12

    Billy – I didn’t support the police in this case although i support the role of the state in ensuring our freedom and safety yadda yadda yadda. There is always a fine line between collective and individual rights and in this case the cops look more like Inspector Clouseau.

    I sympathise with the position that Rochelle is in – clearly in the same circumstances, most of us would have done likewise. Still, it is any interesting position when we start justifying breaking the law.

    I’m not black and white on this issue, but nor should the issue be overlooked because you agree with the person’s motive.

  13. ghostwhowalks 13

    Daveski and his comments about utilities not letting you near an account… Well that harks back to the early 2000,s
    Now of course we have ´mytelecom’ which would have all that you could want – if you have a password.
    And as for the restrictions on others , its mainly to keep competitors from getting details such as account numbers and switching your service on the sly

    But Rochelle better be very very careful since the police will get her… eventually.

    Its not as though they have a lot on their plate

  14. lprent 14

    Russell: It would certainly make a difference being charged for something that she actually did. Almost worth going to court for.

    The underlying problem is that there is no real avenue for people to input into police policies. The IPCA can’t look at policies, only at individual officers.

  15. David 15

    Only in good old NZ could we have such a tame spy scandal

  16. lprent 16

    gww: Since they do that anyway, it really is not that much of a difference. Rochelle is in the position where the police really can’t do much to her that they haven’t done anyway.

    The number of bogus charges is staggering. The one where a district court judge dumped the case immediately after hearing the prosecution was classic. One of the two police was clearly lying.

    The one thing that the police seem to hate is her habit of using cameras at protests to film whatever happens as a defense. They usually try to get them all off before swinging into action. They managed to hold one of her cameras for 14 months – pity that there were others available.

  17. Quoth the Raven 17

    Daveski – there are many justifications for breaking the law.

  18. Daveski 18

    QTR

    It’s a deep and fascinating philosophical discussion – one of the main reasons I enjoy this site.

    Freedom of speech, association and protest must be sacrosanct although I was in full agreement about LP’s point about doing it within accepted boundaries.

    I agree in principle that there must be justifications for breaking the law but the difficulty is to define these in a way that is workable.

    I shall stop being deep and philosophical and return to being shallow and right wing 😉

  19. Dean 19

    “lprent: Ah – explain to me where exactly she broke the ‘law’ in ANY of the above? There is no crime in google-bombing, it just takes skill and patience.”

    That’s a fair point and it’s shame that Corfu ended his post in such a way because clearly none of the things he mentioned were in any way illegal. It’s also a pretty sad day when the police plant someone in such groups – keystone kops just doesn’t cover it.

    However it is a bit laughable when she claimed she had no party affiliation given the information Corfu posted. Yes, that google bomb was in no way, shape or form party affiliated, but please don’t pretend she has none herself.

    [lprent: She hasn’t been a member of the NZLP for a while, keeps forgetting to renew her membership. Besides she has always worked pretty equally between the greens and labour.

    Quite simply she wanted to play with google bombs and JK seemed like an obvious target. I agree with her – he does seem to be clueless – truly a man for the times – I think that is what Colin James was probably alluding to].

  20. Iprent:

    If the police broke the law then she should take all the legal action necessary, if she feels shes been wrong she go to the media or other watch dog groups, surly you dont think people should have the right to bug phones or put scripts on other people’s computers even though she is morally right.

    [lprent: That is my point – tell me exactly what legal action she should take. Short answer is that there isn’t anything effective. So the best approach is to make sure that the particular idiots in the police who have done this never feel inclined to play these foolish games by making them feel the costs. The most effective way is to run a campaign in public – not hidden behind legalistic gates. The police are part of the population. I’m sure a lot of them are just as upset and embarrassed about the comrades behavior as I am. They will provide the force for the changes that are required in the police. ]

  21. Pascal's bookie 21

    Left and right are really tricky terms, despite their usefulness. What the terms mean varies depending on the context of aims, power structures and many things beside policies. Most policy settings could be considered ‘left’ or ‘right’ depending on the other factors.

    Camryn comes close to my view of things here:

    …since we live in a primarily free market capitalist system at the moment (as far as I can tell) it’s tempting for many who like that system to try to utilize authority to unfairly extend their own personal power, and reaction against that improper action becomes associated with the left. In the Soviet Union, the primary benefactors used extreme authoritarian methods to preserve their way of life in the same way, and many of the defenders of liberty were rightists.

    I would say it slightly differently in that I would say the in the USSR the communist party was the right wing, in that they were the established power structure, seeking to promote National greatness above the welfare of the citizens, and protect the existing order at all costs. the rhetoric can go fuck itself.

    I think that much of our political discourse gets bogged down by (IMV) failing to see that left and right are not necessarily terms that apply to a set of policies per se, but rather to where the proponents of any given policy stand in relation to the existing power structures. Thus, under an absolute monarchy the National party would be left wingers of a different sort to the Labour party (splitters!).

    But this is just my own use of the terms. My use breaks apart just as badly when we look at types of revolutionaries. According to the above they should all be considered left wing, but I don’t really think this. I would draw a left right distinction between revolutionaries on the right, who seek to restore some lost golden age of national greatness with the proper order of justice restored, and those on the left that seek to establish a justice that has never existed. Or something.

  22. mike 22

    your nieces actions should serve a warning to us just what would be in store for NZ should the nutty greens ever get any real power.

    Feeling strongly about something does not exempt you from the law. Silly girl

    [lprent: I’m sure that Rochelle would relish the chance. Just imagine how much damage to the police could be done with being forced to disclose all of the gory details. I think that it is unlikely to happen.]

  23. Lew 23

    I don’t see how Rochelle is trying to avoid the consequences of her counter-surveillance; in fact, I think she’s going public with just what she did and under which circumstances as a clear counter to the conduct of the police and their informants in this case. She has nothing to hide, and consequently nothing to fear – except a long, involved, drawn-out trial of a complex technical nature involving some of the most active, organised, irate protesters in the country, many of whose views and suspicions about the nature of law enforcement have just been quite thoroughly vindicated. And an apparently wealthy and technically adept uncle who runs a popular political website.

    I’d say the declaration of her actions and involvement is more of a red rag than a white flag, and I, for one, will be interested in what happens out of this whether the police decide to prosecute or not. At the very least, her experience should be worth writing a book about.

    L

    [lprent: You forgot the positively boiling woman of all political hues. For some reason they resonate with her anger…]

  24. Kylee 24

    This is exactly the type of plot that would keep all the rednecks watching in a movie theater…yet in real life they cry FOWL FOWL (yes intentional pun).

    How does one prove that the Police are spying on you without gathering proof before they have the chance to destroy it all?

    This guy Rob is a creep. I met him about 9 years ago and thought he was a sleaze. I have no idea how he managed to infest the groups he did without them realising it.

  25. Lew 25

    Lynn: the positively boiling woman of all political hues […] they resonate with her anger…

    Multi-hued like the angry octopus – rather than the hiding chameleon.

    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_egWqXlF-6eM/Rr9RZQtDIWI/AAAAAAAAAFo/9O9wmVbmaWM/s640/DSCF0492.JPG

    L

  26. She can run a public campaign about it, she can put it on facebook or myspace or blog about it, they are all great ideas , but it’s illegal to bug someone’s phone or put a script on someone’s computer even though they may of done you wrong.

    I am no lawyer, but that is the advice I would give her.

  27. RedLogix 27

    PB,

    Would it be helpful to recall the two axis of the “Political Compass”?

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/

    It is plausible to suggest that once in power all political groupings are compelled by the very nature of it’s exercise to migrate toward the authoritarian end of the spectrum. A grouping like the Greens that start at the socially liberal end of the spectrum would likely take far longer to arrive there than the Nats (who started arrogantly ramming legislation through with days of assuming power)… but given the that the primary role of government is the exercise of authority, inevitably this taints even the staunchest defenders of human rights.

    I recall Nandor Tancos implying something like this; that his nine years service even in Opposition had left it’s mark, and was determined to leave Parliament while he felt his anarchist soul still unstained.

    The other axis of the political compass relates to more conventional notions of left and right in economic terms, but as pointed out by others above, this variable essentially decoupled from the authoritarian/libereal axis and has no necessary correlation with it.

  28. Lew 28

    BD: Yes, I think we’ve established that her actions were illegal. Now the game begins: do the police choose to enforce the law? In strategy games such as chess, or better yet, wei’qi, the surest way to win is to put your opponent in a position where they are left with only bad choices – so whatever move they make, you take the advantage. If the police don’t prosecute, the law is an ass. If they do, they themselves will be exposed as asses on the public record.

    Their move.

    Greater depth: what happens if someone brings a private prosecution against her, like Graham McCready did against Trevor Mallard after the Tau to Tau incident?

    L

  29. lprent 29

    Lew: 🙂 Cool photo. That looks like a very annoyed octupus…

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070209-octopus-video.html

    BD: If she had not done the tracing, then there is just some e-mails going back and forth to anon e-mail addresses.  As Rochelle is not able to get search warrants at the drop of a bogus charge. The group that she could complain to (the police) are probably involved. How else is there any way to trace the culprits.

    If she hadn’t dug out the data, then it’d have just been the actions of a hysterical paranoid regardless of where the story was run. Easy to brush off and not listened to.

    The problem with this type of operation for the police, is that when the victim cannot trust the police. then they have to do it them-self. It is a conundrum that leads back to the question of trust in the police. Ask the woman who have brought rape cases against the police. They have had the same kinds of problems.

    So BD, what do you suggest as an alternate way out of the conundrum?

  30. Lew:

    Breaking the law is not a game of chess.

    Iprent:

    How far do you take it then, what do you think someone should be allowed to do?

    Who else can she hack? and perform illegal activities against.

    My advice would be to hire a PI or go through legal channels and the media.

    I just hope for her sake, Telecom doesn’t decide to take legal action her, she could be in a lot of trouble if they do.

  31. lprent 31

    BD: A PI is a private citizen, the same as rochelle.

    I’ve already explained about the media. The ‘legal channel’ are the police…

    Quit avoiding the question. If there are no legal channels available to find out what part of the state is intruding into your life – what should you do? Roll over and get raped?

    I sure wouldn’t and I wouldn’t expect that you would either.

    Incidently, rochelle wouldn’t hack systems normally. Nor do I. Both of us have the required skills, neither of us has used them recently. I did 30 years ago, but that was a different type of system then. Now we stop hackers, spam, viruses, trolls, etc

    There are a hell of lot of more fun things to do than cracking systems. This is a special problem because the people who are meant to investigate this type of privacy invasion are the ones doing it.

  32. I didnt mean for the PI to do the hacking, I mean for the Pi to snope around, or for her to snope around with out breaking the law.

    Arent there a lot of civil liberties lawyers who would love to take her case, who may have the legal methods needed.

    Im sure there are a lot of good police who know what has happened to her is wrong, they may be able to help.

    What about contacting her local MP?

    Anyway, Congrats on stopping all the spa, viruses and trolls! We need more people like that.

  33. Tim Ellis 33

    Golly.

    This whole thing really is very perplexing. Spying and counter-spying in little old New Zealand. Good on her for getting her own back, but from what I can see at this stage all it points to is an idiotic, scumbag of a boyfriend taking a few people for a ride, and possibly a couple of rogue cops playing cloak and daggers.

    It will be interesting to see how far up the tree this goes, though. Who knew what, and when. Have we heard any calls from Labour for a full inquiry?

  34. Haha, hey Brett Dale, I’m sure Rochelle Rees can give the minister a breifing complete guarantee that she is acting entirely legitimately and only conducting surveillance on individuals not groups (that makes it all better you see).

    Put this this way, she could have pulled a Cameron Slater, taken all the source material and posted it up using an anonymous hosting service (like Slater did with Pearl Going) and claimed it wasn’t her, then you lot (assuming you don’t have double standards) would have tied yourself in literary knots jusitfying and defending the apparent poster, and attacking anyone who suggests it might be her. I don’t think for a second that you do so how ever, and I’m glad she has posted it up.

    Maybe she should be entitled to some kind of protection as a whistle blower?

    After having a good read through what Meurant had to say plus keeping in mind these recent revelations, and what Lynn has said especially about the loitering with intent (was it?) charge, I’m starting to wonder if a much more organized pattern of behavior is starting to emerge.

    Rochelle and many others appear to be the victims of what can only be discribed as a legal experiment, to see what they can charge her for (when she clearly isn’t actually breaking any relevant law). The police are blatantly not concerned about someone loitering with intent, they are looking for something they can charge her (and other people saying things they don’t like) with.

    This combined with having a spy keep an eye on a large number of activists starts to paint a worrying picture. Lynn, did you ever make any attempt to work out who suggested charging her with that? it’s far to obscure for your average cop on the beat to pull out his arse, it must have been a conscious decision from higher up.

  35. Ari 35

    Brett: Nice backdown. As much as I like to advocate the high road, I have to agree with the friendly admin here- There are times it’s morally justified to break a law, and this seems like a pretty good example. I wish Rochelle the best with her trial by media- and hopefully it will stay a trial by media rather than a matter for the courts.

    Pascall: This is part of why I like to ignore the labels Left and Right for a lot of things, and refer to economic liberals and economic regulators, and social liberals and social authoritarians. You’re referring to something altogether different: conservatism and progressivism. Conservatives have an ideological bias towards entrenched systems, and progressives have an ideological bias towards reform. Whether this is because their chosen sides are attractive of themselves or just because of a more general bias is better left to speculation, but you’re right to point out that parties that are to the Right can be progressive. Sadly, the government is showing itself to be quite conservative in a time when it’s very clear that the status quo is broken.

  36. lprent 36

    TE: “and possibly a couple of rogue cops playing cloak and daggers.

    It is a bit more than a few but essentially that is what I suspect. Probably closer to 50-100, plus their like minded minions in the ordinary police.

    For any activists the environment has got a lot more dangerous since 2002. These days any activist (that does anything apart from quietly speaking in private) can expect at any point to get grabbed on bullshit charges, have a search warrant executed, and expect to spend more than a year waiting for a court hearing to throw out the charges. If they are unlucky in their district court judge, they have to go to the high court to get it thrown out.

    The applications for search warrants are full of inaccurate crap cribbed from overseas websites, with a few supporting generalizations for NZ and offered up as honest opinion by some sworn officer lying through their teeth. From what I understand they usually offer up some verbals about “reliable information” from the likes of Rob, who does have quite a tendency towards bullshit.

    Who knows if the police concerned actually believe it?

    But what is lacking is the supervision of the hierarchy. You get the impression that there is no substantive auditing of the processes and the final results. Results are lousy to say the least, but in the time honored fashion that is probably blamed on lawyers (pity that a lot of the defendants do it themselves).

    Rochelles intent here is to damage the police until they start looking closely, internally at the units causing this type of damage to their reputation. I’m happy to help. Frankly I’m tired of seeing it happen to young activists like Rochelle and her friends. So are a lot of other people.

    A inquiry or whatever is probably a lot less effective than what the police as a group can do internally. It just stifles the required pain that organizations need for internal reformation. So we keep pushing every crappy arrest and charge since 2002 and looking at the information from this particular informer.

    I don’t think that even the activists worry much about arrests for protest that is actual civil disobedience – that is expected when people choose to do it. What gets in everyones craw are the harassment arrests designed to cause extra-judicial punishment by the delays prior to successfully defending the court case.

  37. lprent 37

    KINO: The intimidation by loitering came from the Threats Assessment Unit.

    Threats – The Threat Assessment Unit investigates threats against police staff, judges and court staff and other investigative agency staff.  They respond to counter-terrorist threats or situations. The unit also collects and analyses potential threats to New Zealand and visiting government politicians and officials.

    In this case, the unit was probably only really interested in the search warrants so that they could find out what the AAA was doing.

    So they cobbled together a case based on a particular incident that Rochelle and Jesse were not at. Because they also wanted to search Rochelles home and especially her computers and footage, they also tossed this charge in as well against both of them.

    The basis of the charge against Rochelle and Jesse was an uncorroborated statement by the complainant (basically everyone else who was there said she was lying through her teeth). The security video footage that would have shown what actually happened was unaccountably not secured and was wiped. Yeah right – and I really believe that.

    The TAU attempted to hold on to as much of Rochelles gear for as long as they could. It took 14 months before her camera was released, and about 4 months for the computers.

    I won’t bother running through the stuff on the other incident. There was more of a case to answer there, but hardly justifying the charges or the search warrants

    The level of bullshit and manipulation of the legal process by the police in question was a real eye opener to me. It was to put it mildly one of the most disgraceful examples of “the ends justifying the means” that I’ve ever seen. Frankly they managed to alienate from trusting the police just about everyone who knows Rochelle including my family and me. So when this stuff with Rob came up, so did the support.

    It wasn’t an isolated incident. The same kind of shit has happened to many people and groups from this group. You see them show up in the known evidence from the Oct 15 arrest as well. Frankly as soon as I knew they were involved, then I assumed that it was largely another jackup.

    From their definition, the TAU should be looking at themselves. They are one of the major threats to NZ
     

  38. Ray 38

    Now while I think Rochelle Rees is smart and politically aware and quite frankly don’t blame her one little bit for having a go at her ex-boy friend
    I am surprised at the general tone from the left that although it is disgusting (although perfectly legal) that the state keeps an eye on what radical groups are doing it is quite alright for rochelle to snop through her boy friends computer (after the first look it was snopping) anf then apparently do some ilegal spying

    Morally where is the difference………….one is for all our safety the other was revenge

  39. lprent 39

    Ray: So far I’ve heard no-one explain what her alternative recourse would have been in realistic terms.

    Perhaps you could explain exactly what she could have done after she found during a authorized investigation of a computer that the police were actively spying on her, her friends, activist groups and political parties using an informer. It appears to be way out of the SIG’s mandate.

    There is no body that can even make that investigation unless you know which police officers were involved. That would be the IPCA.

    However the IPCA cannot investigate breaches or the appropriateness of police policy.

    A civil case against the police would have run into the police restricting her case by refusing to release information for operational reasons.

    Face it – this is exactly the action that any citizen would and should have done as part of their social obligations. If the police choose to pursue charges against her, then the case will probably fail because it hinges around their own methods. I hardly think that the police would want to open that can of worms in public. They prefer to deal with those in house. We’re just helping them aquire the motivation

  40. vidiot 40

    So she broke the law, because she couldn’t go to the law ? I still think she should seek legal opinion before she does anything else that can implicate or impact upon her in the future.

  41. Pascal's bookie 41

    “Morally where is the difference”

    Rochelle Rees knows the legal risks she is running and is presumably prepared to face those consequences should the police risk attempting a prosecution. The police face no consequences except exposure, which can only come about through the risks taken by Rochelle Rees.

    I’m surprised that so many on the right can’t see the difference between the state and an individual citizen.

    Who watches the watchers? Citizens, that’s who.

  42. Anita 42

    Isn’t this simply analogous with civil disobedience undertaken by social movements all over the world?

    To protest against the Police’s actions she consciously and openly broke the law. The act of civil disobedience (and the public declaration of it) is just as much a part of the protest against Police spying as speaking to the media about what the Police are doing.

    When people climb a fence to get into a pig farm so they can film the conditions of the pigs in sow crates, their protest is both the release of the film and the climbing of the fence (and public declaration that they did so).

    Civil disobedience has a moral framework, and has an accepted place in our society.

  43. IrishBill 43

    PB, it is very interesting to see the number of right-wingers who are backing the state over the individual.

  44. Anita 44

    IB,

    One can extend that to saying they’re backing property rights over people rights.

  45. Billy 45

    IB,

    That was my point too. But then, maybe you lefties should be backing the state over the individual. After all, what do one person’s rights matter if society as a whole is better off by knowing what Rochelle may be up to?

  46. Anita 46

    Billy,

    I’m comfortable with the idea there are times when an individual’s rights should be overridden to protect the rights of others  the question is one of balance, when should that occur? how is the weighing up done? how transparent should that be?

    For example, I am ok with removing an unrehabilitated serial sexual offender from society, with a series of provisos which include maintaining all their other human rights and striving for rehabilitation and release.

    I am not ok with the level of personal intrusion by the Police in this case.

    Separate from the level of personal intrusion (and individual rights), the Police actions in this case are deeply anti-democratic and contrary to the open inclusive society most of us would like to say we have.

  47. Tim Ellis 47

    LP, if you are right, and there are as many as 50-100 police officers harassing protesters, then that is no longer just a few rogue cops. That is systematic abuse of police power, for which the Commissioner will have to be responsible. How much did he know, and when? What was reported to the previous Minister of Police, and when? If it started in 2002, as you say, then why wasn’t the previous Minister aware it was taking place? What questions did she ask, or fail to ask, about this culture of police harassment of protesters?

    I don’t think you can have it both ways, LP. Either there is a very small, isolated, minor problem that can be dealt with quickly and for which previous ministers aren’t accountable, or there are very much deeper, systematic issues involving widespread abuse of power which either the previous minister did know, or should have made it her business to know about.

  48. IrishBill 48

    As I understand it there was a flying-squad developed in the 1990’s to deal with protests around the country. This was based on the idea that it would mean local police were not involved with conflict in their own communities.

    The greatest shame of the previous Labour government was its right-wing approach to law and order.

  49. higherstandard 49

    “The greatest shame of the previous Labour government was its right-wing approach to law and order.”

    How so ?- and what is a left wing approach to law and order ?

    Edit

    Tim

    80 rogue cops would amount to around 0.1% of NZ officers, while I think they should like the scumbags in the police who used their position to abuse their authority and commit crimes both against the law of the land and IMO against individuals, this is a very small percentage of all police and should not be used as a stick to beat the whole force with – the vast majority of whom are excellent, in much the same way as a rogue teacher or physician shouldn’t be used as a means to smear an entire profession.

  50. Ianmac 50

    higherstandard: Agreed and nor should the group of kids who are failing in school be used to beat-up the whole system!

  51. higherstandard 51

    Ian

    Agreed – I don’t know about you but my kids have been graded against NZ norms every six months since they began at school many years ago – I was always under the impression that was the case at all schools so can’t fathom why we need additional testing.

  52. IrishBill 52

    HS, authoritarian and reactionary.

  53. lprent 53

    TE: As HS said, this is a very small number of police in a small units scattered over the country. This is a big organisation. It would not surprise me if these types of units operate semi-autonomously within the police with only general oversight.

    I’d also agree that most police are actually great. There are the usual faction of fools, but far less than you’d expect given that the organisation has to be a magnet for some of the more obnoxious personality types.

    However HS, the problem is that various activists and activist groups have been complaining to the police for years in various ways with no result. There are no channels and you can almost hear the graunching of shoulders as they close ranks.

    So when something like this comes up, it is directed at all police, because they choose to be responsible for their fellow officers. The changes will have to come from within, because that is the way that they are organised. The pressure has to go on the reputation and trust of all police.

    vidiot: You avoided my question – what alternate legal avenue should have Rochelle pursued?

  54. Tim:

    Do you think our police are abusing protestors?

    I have seen a lot of political protests overseas, where the police use tear gas and rubber bullets and fire hoses, that doesn’t happen here, What happens here in NewZealand is a few protesters would sit in the middle of the road, the police will remove them for blocking traffic by lifting them up, no tear gas, no rubber bullets, no fire hoses, heck protesters in this country have it easy, when compared to other countries.

  55. Lew 55

    BD: Actually, those protests you see overseas are on a scale and of a confrontational nature not seen here since 1981, and are more correctly termed `riots’. Those you might be thinking of (foreshore and seabed being the most significant in recent memory) would barely even qualify as protests by the standards of places like South Korea, where a couple of times a year 10,000 or more people march on the Cheong Wa Dae with motorcycle helmets, baseball bats and molotov cocktails to protest something like the reduction of tariffs on rice imports.

    L

  56. Joshua 56

    I’m curious where the emails are now. Surely there’s copy someone’s got hidden away somewhere – analysing them for another good Sunday Star Times article next Sunday.

  57. anon 57

    hello, please post all collected corresponce from Rob Gilchrist in a torrent and upload it somewhere .

    [lprent: That cannot be done. A high proportion of it consists of questions and answers about individuals. A large number of the facts about those people could only be classed as pure speculation at best.

    Plus of course there is the personal correspondence, texts, and call records.

    That is unlikely to ever be released. It isn’t germane to the questions raised. There are privacy issues for the third-party people mentioned.]

  58. Tim Ellis 58

    HS, I agree that if the allegations are true, and if there are 50-100 cops harassing protesters, then it is only a small number of police. However I think the number is sufficiently large for it to be a problem for the police commissioner. He either knows about the problem, or should have made it his business to know about the problem. This is not a case of a couple of rogue cops acting in a heavy-handed way towards petty criminals. Peaceful protest goes to the heart of our democracy. Potentially, a large number of people who protest have been targetted and/or harassed by the police. I find it quite staggering that this could take place without the police commissioner’s knowledge, even if it were spread throughout the country.

    BD, I don’t have any knowledge of whether the allegations are true, but the allegations are very serious and should be investigated. The public have a right to know that peaceful and legitimate protest activity by peaceful organisations is not being undermined by the police force. In my view the public has a right to know what was done to monitor these organisations, whether organisations or individuals were targetted, whether any actual criminal activities were uncovered, whether such police work really should be a priority for the police, who sanctioned it within the police, whether the Commissioner knew about it and his reasons for allowing it to continue, whether the Commissioner reported to the previous Minister and what questions were asked. There are far too many questions in my mind that potentially undermine police management for this not to be considered further.

  59. lprent 59

    BD: People who sit in the middle of the road (which is illegal) expect to get arrested and often charged. That is part of the normal trade off for doing protests that break the laws. The legal system does not say that you must not do things, it says that you must take the consequences if you do.

    However increasingly, some police have been making charges about legal protests using things that are really not acts but attitudes (like intimidation or terrorism). They wrap some junk around it, get a compliant court registrar to issue search warrants, and then drop people in court for a year or so. That is pure harassment

    To be deliberately and as a matter of a policy to be arrested for something that you haven’t done is new for NZ for the current generations. It has happened before, notably with the union movements. But it appears to be making a comeback with thoughtless police not factoring in what it does to the public trust that police rely on.

    There are no significant consequences for these police. Their hierarchy appears to be unwilling to listen or to do something about it. This appears to be the only way to initiate some change in the police. If that does not happen, then at least activists have better warning and the public will be less likely to trust the police in the future.

    J: All over the place and usually not looking like what it is. What else do you expect?

  60. vidiot 60

    vidiot: You avoided my question – what alternate legal avenue should have Rochelle pursued?

    Dumped the git, made it known to her associates (and the groups she wasn’t associated with) that there was something extremely dodgy with him, but that’s all. Running to the press (again), stating that she was for lack of better words hacking his system and look at what she has found, has I think opened her up to future actions. You can only piss on a dogs back a couple of times, before it bites back – unless of course, she was aiming to get her 15 mins of fame ?

    captcha – hospital arrivals [quite numerous, considering one of my workmates is at the birth of his 1st right now]

  61. Anita 61

    vidiot,

    You sound like you think that only Rob did something wrong, in which case Rochelle should only do something about his actions,

    Many many people believe that the Police have done something wrong too. Do you? Given that Rochelle thinks they did, what do you think she should do?

  62. lprent 62

    Anita: You beat me to it.

    Because of the way that they were paying him, you’d have to view him as acting as an agent of the police. That means that his handlers and the policy backing it are as equally culpable.

  63. Anita 63

    lprent,

    Has anyone tracked down the guidelines for undercover Police? Would his actions have been acceptable if he was a sworn salaried officer?

  64. lprent 64

    I have no idea. It’d be interesting if they were available.

    However at a rough guess I’d say that they weren’t from what I know about some of his activities.

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