Who else are they spying on?

Written By: - Date published: 2:24 pm, December 17th, 2008 - 16 comments
Categories: Media, national/act government, police - Tags: , , , ,

Gordon Campbell raises a good question in his latest Scoop column – are the Police also using paid informants to spy on mosques?

According to the original Sunday Star-Times article, the Police informant Rob Gilchrist was getting $600 a week for his information. This is a substantial amount, and more than enough to entice anyone to manufacture information to keep the money coming in and no surprise then that Gilchrist seems to have been active in promoting activities he could then inform on.

The incident raises an additional concern. A fee of $600 a week could well find takers among refugee communities and mosques in New Zealand, and any information manufactured in this context would have an extra dimension. Most social activists are New Zealand citizens, and so their immigration status is not at risk. That is not the case with many refugees and among some ethnic minorities. Recent arrivals from Islamic countries who may be attending mosques in New Zealand do not enjoy the protection of citizenship.

Therefore, there is genuine potential for dubious, paid information to be used secretly in decisions that affect immigration status. To date, there has been no more evidence of security risks emanating from mosques in New Zealand than there is from the environmental or social activist groups spied on by Rob Gilchrist. If the Police anti-terrorism unit is willing to spy on people exercising their right to freedom of protest, what is it doing to infringe on those exercising freedom of worship ?

I’ve had similar thoughts myself. After all, it’s hard to believe that the spying activity revealed by Rochelle Rees was limited to one paid informant. If they’re investigating Greenpeace and Auckland Animal Action for potential terrorist activity there’s a good chance there are paid Police informants in the Muslim community and elsewhere.

So, who else are the Police spying on? And why don’t the Prime Minister, the Minister of Police or the media appear at all interested in finding out?

16 comments on “Who else are they spying on?”

  1. Tim 1

    I think there’s a real need for the police to have their ear to what is going on in many parts of society. I would prefer they focus most on P labs, gangs and organised burglary rings but it would also be naive of the police not to monitor certain activist groups and even some religious groups. While moderate muslims are peaceful, there is often an element of fundamentalist/extremist muslims that are not, and I would feel safer knowing that our police actually have an idea of who those elements might be. And I’m sure there are other groups as well. I’m not sure why they’d be spying on the green party, but suspect it had something to do with the government of the time.

  2. Pascal's bookie 2

    same with the catholics and protestants. they’ve caused their fair share of troubles. and russians. we all know about the australians amoungst us and most of them are surely law abiding, but still. i understand that most heterosexuals are moderate but there exist amoungst them some who are violent. Indeed most people in prison are of that persuasion.

  3. the sprout 3

    Indeed Pb, I’ve heard a lot of those left-handers have criminal persuasions too. Best lock them up to be on the safe side. You may also be interested to know that Pol Pot was short. Concidence? I think not.

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    But your argument (and Campbell’s) presupposes that the Police held a genuine belief that Rochelle Rees, say, was genuinely planning terrorist action.

    [Sorry to single her out but she’s the public victim in this, it’s clear she wouldn’t, and the Police did say that it wasn’t organisations that concerned them, it was individuals].

    I would argue, on the other hand, that clearly they held no such belief. They knew full well that the people on whom they were spying were benign in terms of their potential or intent to seriously break the law (i.e. blow stuff up as opposed to shuffling round in front of a shop holding a placard).

    So why were they targeted? Simple. The Police are a prejudiced, reactionary bunch with a huge vested interest in the preservation of the status quo. They will thus run surveillance against anyone seen to threaten those interests, regardless of how unthreatening they are to the public at large.

    When I got tired of them bugging my phone (in the days before DTMF and digital, when a thunderous “click” signalled the bridging of the line at the start of a call) I arranged with friends to have a ridculous conversation worthy of Cheech and Chong and then staked out the “meeting place” and caught them in our headlights as they crept around and laughed our asses off. Either they gave up or got cleverer, I’m not sure which.

    I know at least two senior barristers who refuse to discuss cases on landlines or mobiles, or via email, trusting only fax communication and preferring, whenever possible, to meet in person and hand over documents personally. They are in abslutely no doubt that the police routinely monitor their privileged communications with clients.

    With all that going on, we’d be lucky if there were enough resources left to monitor mosques!!

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    Short, was he? that explains it then. it’s surely a worry sprout. you’d think people would start to pay more attention to these people after that corsican fellow what was always scratching his armpit, and that austrian bloke. we should clearly lock up everyone under 5 foot 10 for males and 5’6 for females and not let them out till they’ve finnished growing up.

    you’ve nought to fear if you’ve nought to hide

  6. the sprout 6

    That sounds like an eminently sensible sentence.

    Nevermind the quiet ones, it’s the short ones youse gots to watch for.

  7. insider 7

    My goodness how outrageous – people might be monitored in mosques. WHo in their right mind could beleive that they might be sources of radicalism aimed at destabilising the society they exist in? I mean it’s just not credible.

  8. Rex Widerstrom 8

    Hey if Gilchrist is indicative of the standard that’s needed to be a nark nowadays I’ll put my hand up. I’ll just let my stubble grow a bit longer, chuck on a dressing gown, head down the local mosque and tell ’em my name’s Abdul.

    Of course unlike Gilchrist’s cushy sinecure there won’t be any perks. No dizzy leftoid girlies desperate for a shag so they can pretend they’re in the arms of a dangerous revolutionary rather than a pudgy layabout. I’ll have to lay off the pork chops. And I doubt I could get away with a quick snifter or ten from my hip flask…

    So let’s call if $750 a week clear, shall we?

    I’m sure I can produce intelligence of equal value, especially with the sprout and Pascal’s bookie to help me.

  9. Julie 9

    I might be remembering this all wrong, but wasn’t there quite a lot of evidence in the Zaoui case that the defence was never allowed to see because it was supposedly a security risk to even show the accused? Reading this post I thought of that…

  10. Akldnut 10

    I wannna know if he was receiving the benefit or working?
    1. If it was the benefit, was it declared as additional income?
    2. If it was either, did he pay secondary tax?
    3. Will he get a reference from the police for his next job?
    4. If didn’t pay “Tax” will the police pay him to join the “Tax evaders” club and start potting them?

    5.The most important question is:
    How did a moron like him pull a chic like Rochelle?

  11. Anita 11

    So, who else are the Police spying on? And why don’t the Prime Minister, the Minister of Police or the media appear at all interested in finding out?

    I expect that the media is interested in finding out, but they know just how fruitless asking would be.

  12. Sarah 12

    I’m sorry Tane, but the police are doing what is necessary to protect our national interests. The groups in question, that are being investigated, have continually shown themselves to be a general threat and nusiance to society, and therefore the police are justified to monitor them to ensure that they continue to abide by the law in the future and do not put themselves in a position where they could potentially harm society.

    I commend the police for doing their job properly and efficiently, as they have demonstrated over the last few days that public safety is the top aim within their work. Anything less from the police in my eyes would be a failure.

    On the other hand, The Standard over the past few days has demonstrated quite readily their inability to handle any issue in a fair and balanced manner. The connection of Rochelle Rees to Standard owner Lynn Pretince has encapsulated this, as The Standard has delved into a crusade to protect and represent Lynn’s family interests, instead of fairly dealing with the issue by taking into account both sides. In doing this, this website has lost it’s credibility as an independent left-wing blog, and I would heavily suggest that members of this site look at this issue from the perspective of the police when coming to further judgments.

  13. Sarah,

    How ever much of a nuisance you may consider them there is no reasonable justification for having a group of police who’s job is to look out for terrorists, spy on political groups. If you honestly think that the behaviour of the police is appropriate, you wouldn’t mind them also having people to spy on such groups as Family First, The Free Speech Coalition, Destiny Church, the ACT party, the Sensible Sentancing Trust, ect.

    On the other hand, the reaction from large parts of kiwiblog and the right leaning commentators here has shown how willing you all are to put personal prejudice over principle, you lot should be ashamed of yourselves.

  14. Django 14

    So, I imagine down at the Standard those of you with a conscience now have sympathy with National , over the uninvestigated theft of private correspondence by person or persons unknown, and the subsequent politicisation of that stolen property by the Labour and NZ First parties. In contrast to the non-released details of the Gilchrist spy missions, the National Party email theft involved the editing and out of context dissemination of them publicly and even saw books, plays and movie productions made for commercial and political mileage.

    At least the Greens can consider themselves lucky it’s the Police who have any info and not the Government. Imagine the mileage the Nats could get from this one should they choose an open enquiry with all the stolen Greens information given over for public scrutiny.

    “Hollow Men 2 – the hypocrites” – perhaps?

  15. Sarah 15

    Killinginthenameof – If those groups have been deemed by the police to be a risk to society in one way or another then yes I certainly believe that they should get the same treatment as those left wing groups. Especially the National Front.

    Don’t politicise this whole issue.

  16. Anita 16


    How much of a threat does a group have to be to justify this kind of intrusion? How should that be decided? Should the decision-making criteria be made public?

    I think very few of us are arguing that no groups should be infiltrated, what we’re arguing about is where the lines should be drawn, and what kind of Police action is justified for each line.

    Knowing a little about some of the groups the Police used Rob to spy on, I find it really hard to believe that the line that justifies this level of intrusion was crossed.

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