Gordon Campbell on the Police harassment of Nicky Hager

So now we know. If you’ve done something to really annoy the Establishment – hello, Kim Dotcom, Heather Du Plessis Allen, Nicky Hager and teapot tapes photographer Bradley Ambrose – not only will you rocket to the top of the priority list for the Police and their scant resources, but chances are they’ll overstep their lawful authority while turning you over. Meanwhile the dodgy behaviours and payments documented in Hager’s book Dirty Politics will go un- investigated. How many more examples of Police partiality in the use of its investigative discretion do we need? The Police are a tool. Cross their political masters and you’ll pay the price.

In the case of the Hager investigation there are several disturbing aspects. Beforehand, the Police knew they were unlikely to find any evidence relevant to the identity of the hacker they were trying to find. Hager was officially not a suspect. Justice Clifford’s decision says that this was a mission motivated by little more than hope. Secondly, what the judge called the Police’s “fundamental error” was that they failed to reveal to the District Court judge issuing the search warrant that the target of their warrant was a journalist – and therefore someone likely to enjoy the protections afforded to journalists under the Evidence Act.

This looks particularly suspicious when – at 8.30am in a search that went on to 6pm– the Police actually asked Hager whether he wanted to invoke his journalistic privilege. Which Hager immediately did. As a result, this prevented the Police from examining the material they were gathering. It became evidence that had to be bagged and sealed, and could be opened subsequently only at the order of (another) judge. Therefore, if this was a raid designed to get evidence that would quickly uncover the hacker’s identity, it had become pointless almost as soon as the Police gained entry to Hager’s house.

The more important point being : if the Police knew about the probability of journalistic privilege being invoked, why didn’t they tell the District Court judge beforehand – in which case, the judge might have asked them some awkward questions. With hindsight, it looks like a willful lack of disclosure by the Police officers concerned. (Lets leave aside for now the issue of how the Police managed to find a judge who must be the only person in New Zealand unaware that this Nicholas Alfred Hager bloke named on the warrant was, in fact, a journalist. Did it not occur to the judge to ask any questions at all? Given that the scrutiny of the judge is supposed to be a check and balance on Police getting search warrants willy nilly, this part of the story isn’t very re-assuring, either.)

So, where are we now? Hager has had his belongings (some of them the basic tools of his trade) held in Police custody for well over a year. Hopefully – if the Police don’t appeal the decision – those belongings will now be returned, and lets hope that the inconvenience gets added to the compensation and damages payment Hager is now surely liable to receive, after being on the receiving end of an unlawful Police warrant and search.

Already there has been a lot of talk about how Justice Clifford’s decision has set a precedent and raised the bar on journalistic privilege. I don’t really think so. The rules were already there in black and white in the Evidence Act, and the Police broke them at will. If sufficiently motivated, they will do so again. The next time someone royally pisses off the political Establishment, it’s a safe bet that the Police will come knocking on their door.

In this case, the Police were hoping to find something that might criminalise Hager, and shut him up for good. If that didn’t happen, they could at least harass him, inconvenience him and disrupt his ability to do his work for months and months on end. That goal has been achieved. Ultimately, you can bet no Police officer will be sanctioned over this affair. And as always, the taxpayers will pick up the compensation tab for the Police incompetence (and/or malice) that has marked their behavior on this occasion.

Christmas songs

Its almost Christmas week, so… ho ho ho, time for a bit of Yuletide song and general merriment. Red Red Meat were a beloved late 1990s band who put out two perfect and psychedelically obtuse records (Bunny Gets Paid was the masterpiece ) that still stand up pretty well today. “There’s A Star Above The Manger Tonight” was the title of the second of those efforts. It is a Christmas song – with a banjo wound up so tight it sounds Chinese – but the lyrics also go somewhere else entirely. Is “Let the lost keep staying lost…” really a Christmas sentiment?

Brandy and rye, the magpies are stirring
Lay down your last twenty dollars
Shepherds are dead sober, whispering numbers
There’s a star above the manger tonight
The Devil gets wise when you start to win
Dead from your pleasures too soon

Horseflies are flying slow, heavy from your remains
Silver green, many mansions above us
Wash up your hands before you dive in
Sweet baby Jesus, give me luck at the tables
There’s a star above the manger tonight
Turn down the lighthouse low
Let the lost keep staying lost
Shepherds are dead sober, whispering numbers
There’s a star above the manger tonight

Run-DMC’s Christmas in Hollis” is one of their most endearing songs. Run sees Santa and his reindeer in the park and mistakes the reindeer for a dog. And then finds Santa’s wallet, stuffed with cash. What’s a poor black guy to do ?

But I’d never steal from Santa, ’cause that ain’t right
So I was going home to mail it back to him that night
But when I got home I bugged, ’cause under the tree
Was a letter from Santa and the dough is for me

It’s Christmas time in Hollis, Queens
Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens
Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese
And Santa puttin’ gifts under Christmas trees…

Sorry, this next one is truly terrible – and I include it only as evidence that Billy Idol really does bear a striking resemblance to Lockwood Smith.

This 1955 track by the Hepsters is simply the best rock’n’roll Christmas song, ever. Some genius has set it to footage of his daughter playing at a fairground in Swansea….

Here, from about 1963, is a great ska version of “White Christmas”: by two Jamaican guys called Simms and Robinson.

The Qualities were an offshoot of jazzman Sun Ra and his merry pranksters from Saturn. From circa 1960, here’s their quasi-doowop novelty song “Its Christmas Time”

And here finally are the Temptations, with what, to my mind, is the best version of “Silent Night” ever recorded.

Anyone got any others?

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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16 Comments on Gordon Campbell on the Police harassment of Nicky Hager

  1. I concur with your comments about the incurious District Court judge. I hope the Chief District Court judge, Hon Jan-Marie Doogue, admonishes her colleague.

    Probably will not though, as expertise in journalistic privilege is not in her bio on http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

    District Court judges have Life Tenure (Constitution Act 1986, s 23). With decisions like this, it appears they are by and large above, unaware, and unconcerned about battling whistleblowers. One thing for sure – Mr Hager will never be nominated for a gong by any government.

  2. So it’s ok for Hagar to troll though the personal emails of hundreds of people which were obtained illegally, breaking numerous laws on privacy alone.

    And you think the police shouldn’t be able to touch him.

    I would guarantee you’d be screaming blue murder if someone on the other extreme like Slater did the same thing.

    Many of the things Hagar is complaining about are minor when compared to what he has done.

    There’s such a toxic pool of hypocrisy and sanctimony around Hagar I’m surprised people aren’t drowning in it.

  3. There would have been an immense amount of political pressure put on the police by John Key and his office. Ultimately, the police were the retributive arm of John Key’s way of doing things and it would have taken a rather more independent police chief, reliant as he probably is on a degree of political patronage, to say no. The police otherwise wouldn’t have given a damn. It will be the police that’ll take the fall for John Key, I hope they think it was worth it. John Key will not be the least bit concerned that this search was unlawful; he’s mightily inconvenienced and stressed Nicky Hager, and that’s he’ll be pretty happy with that result.

  4. What you are saying is that as long as they are a left wing journalist they should be protected from any investigation the police may have into a crime…even if they received stolen goods and profited from that crime through their book. Timed to try and change an election….and no other reason.

    Do I agree with some of the stuff in the book – NO, whether left or right. Does any of the stuff in the book surprise me – NO

    At the end of the day politics in any country is a nasty backstabbing business that people with a conscience are unlikely to survive long in. The survivors are those who can navigate their way through the mire that is thrown and still smell of roses. They hang people for their own benefit one minute (like those lefties that were telling secrets to a right wing blogger for their own political gain). and hug them when it suits their agenda. Before you say I agree with you, the part that I feel you have omitted is that the left are as guilty as the right and by Hagers own admission he has not published a lot of stories/names from the stolen information.

    Are the police being influenced by politicians….most likely yes but this transcends left or right, do not forget that.

  5. So who was the judge who issued the search warrant?

    It would be interesting to know if they were…..the sort of person…..who wouldn’t have any idea who Nicky Hager is.

    Or was this a compliant judge who knows not to ask too many questions in aiding the police to go about their job (as they see them).

    We seem to have a history of compliant judges enabling things that shouldn’t have happened at all….or overturning things that were awkward for the powers that be.

    I’m waiting to see what happens with the Kim Dotcom extradition….after all the illegal police and government activity that has gone before.

  6. Thank you for your efforts, both in journalism and in music appreciation. Hope all goes well for you in the New Year.

  7. Who knows. I am the last person to give the benefit of doubt to the police. But on this occasion maybe the pointless search of Hangers self built house on a Rosneath back section was just a gesture to appease the misguided anger of the idiot troglodyte leadership of the left wing Nat govt. Brownlie Tolley Collins Bennett Key and the vicious fat peasant Judith Collins. To the Nat ordinary cretins a little solo researcher like Hager would have to be a commie weirdo.RR

  8. Why would you give the “benefit of doubt” as the police have acted illegally.
    The police have always been tools of the Crown no matter which party/color (e.g Urewera raids)that the establishment put in as puppets/front men of their obese governing corporation.

  9. How outrageous, they acted illegally many would say criminally and now the IPCA are going to try to cover it up.
    The IPCA are not independent as they are funded by the Crown for the Crown.

  10. Heather du Plessis Allen hardly pisses off the political establishment; she is part of it. We do recall her at the last election, pedaling spin on Seven Sharp, and holidaying in Hawaii with Nationals’ chief press advisor afterwards. With her gun story, she pissed off the gun store owner though, who laid complaints.

    Hager highlighted the primary objective of Simon Lusk working for National: to convince the public that politics is a dirty business, and to turn people off voting. Du Plessis Allen helped that along when late in 2015 she promoted Simon Lusk and his message twice on her show, Story. She would like to be compared with Hager, but that would be an insult to any real investigative journalist.

    Excuse the late posting!

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