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Greens drag police further into the Dotcom political circus

The Kim Dotcom Bubble floats ever higher.

Historians of the future will wonder at the way a migrant multi-millionaire became a hero of New Zealand's political left.

But Mr Dotcom got hoisted a little further up onto the shoulders of the country’s left wingers this morning, with the Green Party championing his case against the New Zealand authorities.

The Greens are doing so by going to some other authorities.

Specifically, co-leader Russel Norman today announced he has lodged a complaint with the police against the Government Communications Security Bureau over the surveillance of Mr Dotcom.

Dr Norman’s point, from a legal point of view, is that the report by Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Justice Paul Neazor finds the GCSB snooped on Mr Dotcom illegally, and that Prime Minister John Key has publicly acknowledged this.

Therefore, some sort of action – Dr Norman does not specify what – should be taken by the police against their colleagues in Pipitea House.

It comes as a bit of a revelation that the Green Party is so hot on law and order issues, but the real target, of course, is Mr Key.

Dr Norman has invoked the same section of the Crimes Act which Mr Key used against freelance photographer Bradley Ambrose after Mr Ambrose created the "tea party tape" of Mr Key and Act MP John Banks’ meeting during last year’s election campaign.

“I am asking the Police to investigate the GCSB’s illegal spying on Mr Dotcom and I call on the prime minister to support that investigation,” Dr Norman says.

“If Prime Minister Key really feels so strongly about a person’s right to privacy, then he should back my call for the police to investigate the illegal surveilling of New Zealand residents by a government spy agency.”

It is unlikely the police will take this complaint far.

From a legal point of view, it is not clear whether a government agency can break the Crimes Act. Much more significantly, the New Zealand police is, as a unit, extremely allergic to being used for political stunts.

If there is one thing they hate more than the gangs it is being dragged into political rows. It is an aversion which runs deep and goes way back to at least the 1981 Springbok tour.

There will probably be calls for the police to reject Dr Norman’s complaint as the political stunt it so clearly is, and to perhaps even raise the issue of wasting police time.

The rozzers are unlikely to go that far: to do so would also bring them further into the political crossfire.

Rather what is most likely to happen is that, after a decent interval, a police lawyer will find a reason for rejecting the complaint.

The rest of us may wonder whether this is the best use of taxpayers’ dollars.

More by Rob Hosking

Comments and questions

another waste of taxpayers money by the Greens. Obviously going after the illegal downloader vote (which i thought they had anyway).

Not a waste of money at all. Treaty settlements are a waste of money. This is not. A full and complete investigation of all the dodgy dealings over the years will expose things that will no doubt cause embarrassment to many politicians from all parties, judges, the police and the secret service. For kiwis to regain confidence in all those groups, the dirty washing must be aired.

If my understanding is correct, the Police asked GCSB to spy on Dotcom and either incompetently advised, he was a foreign national or simply lied but then perhaps GCSB should have checked Dotcom's residency status.Whatever I question if the Police should be allowed to get GCSB to spy on their behalf even with accurate data on those spied on. I find it hard to accept the Police & GCSB are this incompetent in which case they are not being truthful, either way there must be public accountability or both bodies will suffer a further loss of public trust as will Politicians involved.

Mr Hosking, while not wishing to detract from the thrust of this article might I also add "..a hero of New Zealand's political left" and right. What is telling is that my very large circle of whom some are described as more right than Atilla the hun and Nat members to boot are also cheering dotcom with vigour. The one factor that I note amongst his most ardent supporters of all political leanings (apart from the kiwi sense of justice & fair go) is that all seem to be above the norm in IT knowledge and the future of technology in a global sense. His detractors are I have seen tend to be luddites to whom a mouse is vermin or a device to be fumbled with, in other words they fail to understand the bigger picture.

Come on Rob it didnt stop the two Johnnies using the police as a political device in the tea party complaint. The olice didnt publicly balk then so how can they now and why would a Government agency be immune to the Crimes Act?

"From a legal point of view, it is not clear whether a government agency can break the Crimes Act."

Since even individual policemen can be charged with crimes I can't see how offenders in other agencies can be immune nor how the GCSB as a potentially liable entity differs from a state-owned media company.

However I am sure you are correct about the eventual police response. The police may or may not be allergic to being dragged into politics but they are certainly allergic to offending the Government.

I question why Russell Green is supporting a person who is has very short term links with NZ and yet can't support a park in memory of my fore fathers who fought for this country. I question if he has NZ history at heart. My uncle who fought for this country deserves better recognition than this side show called Kim Dot Com.

Never ever forget the principle at stake here. It could be any of us. Thank God Dotcom had the financial ability to expose this corruption.

I hope the Goverment is sued on a scale never seen before which will serve as a lesson to all Government agencies that people have rights.

Do you pay tax by any chance?

I agree, a massive suit that will remain in the minds of all politicians for years to come. And yes, I am a taxpayer. And then it would be up to Dotcom to donate the proceeds, less costs to local charities etc. That would make most people happy. Rather spend it on this founding principle than the wasteful sham of Treaty settlements which benefit only the brown lawyers.

If the poor precious police is so allergic to being used for "political stunts" (in the real world this means "being held accountable for their actions"), maybe they should try to not mess up so spectacularly? Just a thought...

Funny how you complain about Dr Russell Norman wasting police time. Oh how deliciously ironic, when not that long ago the right honourable mr Key dragged the police into a little political theatre of his own making during the "teapot tapes" stunt.

The way we are going with the mainstreet media and TV, Dotcom will be leading the government by then.
Wakey're being led by the nose. The man has rights, but not the right to make fools of us all.

We (as in NZ) were made fools of by our masters, not by Dotcom.

Political stunt huh? Actually what Key & Co is doing is a political stunt, what Norman is doing is demanding accountability, & with good reason. The stench of corruption and wrongdoing is all over this Government, & it needs to stop.
That will only happen when the law in this country takes it role seriously as a defender of justice, not a defender of politicians. If the Police dont want to be dragged into politics, maybe politicians need to stop breaking, or at least misusing, the law?

And when it all comes out - it will go back years, through all political parties. Labour needs to be careful what they wish for too. When Helen's dodgy dealings come out it will make all politicians look bad.

Your seem to be working very hard to miss the point.

Any lawyer will tell you that the government is indeed capable of breaking the law.

And when the government breaks the law, they should be held to account.

You seem to be saying that if the Green Party publically denounce a crime, then the police don't have to investigate.

Furthermore, you seem to have no problem with our national security agencies breaking the law. If history tells us anything, it is such organizations that we should be the most wary of.

I encourage you to reflect on the dangers that a citizenry are subject to when any government department acts outside of the law.

I look forward to you encouraging accountability from the government.

Lets not stop at investigating this agencies abuse of power; lets look into CYF who can arbitrarily remove children from their homes, and in fact one of them died in CYF care this week, an all too common occurance.

If the law has been broken under whatever circumstances then the Police have a duty to investigate. Dotcoms rights as a New Zealand citizen have been violated by the very people who are supposed to protect them. At the end of the day the tax payer will have to pick up the bill for the incompetence of government agencies. The Police should be involved.

Ah, we were already wondering if the huge Police, Crown Law, GCSB, FBI (and who knows who else) operation against Mr. Dotcom was already waste of taxpayers money ... why not throw a few more bucks into the bonfire of vanities to ram home the irony and hypocrisy this thing has illuminated ...we're paying for it, let's have some entertainment at least if they are going let the cops, spooks and crown lawyers go off the reservation on our dime.

PS: surely govt. agencies can break the Crimes Act law (or it is a police state) ?

Rob, if you had half a brain - or poked your head out of the partisan bubble for a second or two - you may actually be amazed to realise that this is not some left wing agenda, but its an issue that now has a very broad spectrum of support from the NZ public. Your thinly veiled attempt to discredit this is about as pathetic as JKs attempts to distance himself from assuming any of his responsibilities in the matter. You will find this out in time if course. Probably around the same time you realise that this wasn't a lost hippy cause by the greens, but a smart and deliberate political move to place itself on the right side of public opinion. People want to see accountability, not the lame excuses your diatribe offers. A word of advice - might be best to keep quiet on this before you feel the wrath of the now politically minded and motivated public.

The big picture here is that we have now had governments from both sides who have used the law to justify their actions, not defend the principle of right and wrong. Those governments have engineered the process so that the denial of individual rights are paid for by the individuals themselves - via their tax.

This is just a cheap political stunt by a political party that may be green on the outside, but is red to its core on the inside. If they ever get any near a position of power then, to quote the national anthem, "God defend New Zealand".

The issue with GCSB and its involvment with Mr Dotcom is all wind.

It is not uncommon for the GCSB to assist the Police in relation to enquiries relating to foreigners. It is in the national interest for GCSB to be involved in such matters.

The Police seem to have avoided the spotlight, yet it was the Police that went to the GCSB and requested that it assist them in respect to its investigation of Dotcom & Co. GCSB sought an assurance from the Police that the target subjects were foreigners, the Police gave that assurance. Given those facts it is not unreasonable for GCSB to have rendered the assistance sought.

The request to GCSB must have come from a high ranking member of the Police, the request would have been made with the knowledge of the commissioner's office and we must assume that the Police are aware of the limits imposed by statute on GCSB.

So either the Police were genuinely not aware of Mr Dotcom's immigration status or deliberately gave an assurance that the Police knew to be incorrect and thereby deliberately misled GCSB, procuring an unlawful act.

Neither John Key, Bill English or any one else in the government is to blame for this. The responsibility rests with The Commissioner of Police, the Officer in charge of OFCANZ and the officer in charge of the Dotcom case. It appears at least one senior officer was prepared to breach his oath in the High Court.

Yet the Tasmanian Poodle, has made a complaint to the Police. It is a bit like complaining to your burglar of the burglary.

His point being - Political not sensible, not practical, not meaningful nor helpful.

In the meantime miners cannot get work in NZ because the Green's oppose mining, farmers are hamstrung because the Greens oppose farming, employers are suffering because the Greens oppose employers, NZ is turning to hemp because we cannot afford silk.

At the end of it all is Dotcom someone we really want in NZ ?

For all the talk of upholding principles and other higher-order motives, Norman is simply an opportunist seeking to improve his own position and power. Just another politician in other words - they're all the same.

The only surprise in all of this is that Key etc still seem not to understand that the NZ public is almost universally disgusted at what has unfolded, and was so three or four phases ago.

Both at the treatment of Dotcom as an individual, and at the principles that are represented by this shameful saga.

What a ridiculous statement "From a legal point of view, it is not clear whether a government agency can break the Crimes Act. A government agency is just as accountable to the Crimes Act as anyone else. Key invoked the same Crimes Act as Norman, the police should give due consideration to Normans complaint. Calling this a political stunt is irresponsible of the NBR, if the law has been broken and worryingly at the highest levels it needs to be investigated!


Why are you guys supporting a career criminal? Unpatriotic as I read by you guys and Russel the greens have voted against a park celebrated our forefathers who fought for this country.

I hope the Agency is also spying on the Greens

They're spying on everyone.

Perhaps there also needs to be a big clean out at the top of NZ's police force? Heads should be rolling at the top, but we all know who calls the shots. NZ's servile cabinet ministers do nothing and say nothing without the approval of their master.

Let's not forget Simon Powers & Maurice Williams role in all this with the full knowledge of the PM.

one distinction i think is being missed: of course government agencies should be accountable for their actions, it is just not clear to me they are accountable under the Crimes Act.

While there's no doubt individuals are liable if they breach the Crimes Act, no matter who they work for, its a bit more complex when it comes to government agencies, which is what Dr Normans announcement talked about.. Legal eagle Graeme Edgeler sent me this useful link which sets out some of the issues:

Secondly i think commenters are right when they point out this whole matter raises some serious issues about the use of state power: I am just not impressed about the student politician manner in which the Greens have handled this by linking it in to the teapots tape saga. The gleeful tit-for-tat approach seems to me to trivialise the matter.

Thirdly, I'm afraid i find the elevation of Kim Dotcom to folk hero status baffling. Partly its his criminal record: but partly too its the fact he made much of his money flouting intellectual property laws.

If this country is going to develop and grow and become a more prosperous place to live; if we are going to develop and grow industires which build wealth on what few natural advantages we have; if we are, in short, going to avoid being pulled over the line into Third World status(and we already have one foot over that line) one of the most vital things is going to be growth and protection of intellectual property. Given all this, conferring celebrity status on someone like Kim Dotcom is simply warped.

So you have found Dotcom guilty? Perhaps you could state your legal credentials at this point and fully document the evidence that drives you to the conclusion that he is a "career criminal". The career criminals in this case are in the police and government, as well you know.