National Party president and NBR Rich Lister Peter Goodfellow (pictured) claims he was covertly spied on by his ex-wife’s minder.
In a complaint to Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority, barrister Roger Gill, multi-millionaire businessman Mr Goodfellow says he found a hidden video camera while he and his ex-wife Libby Black were dividing matrimonial property last August.
The Goodfellow family fortune, with interests across fishing, finance and agricultural chemicals, was estimated in last year’s Rich List to be $500 million.
Lawyer Vanessa Bruton told Mr Gill that Mr Goodfellow’s complaint involved the “very serious issue” of allegedly unauthorised video surveillance.
Mr Goodfellow and Ms Black are involved in a bitter and long-running matrimonial assets dispute, details of which are protected by wide-reaching Court-imposed suppression orders.
Neither Mr Goodfellow nor Ms Black appeared at today’s public hearing.
Mr Goodfellow’s complaint is against private investigator and personal guard Clinton Neville Bowerman, who Mr Goodfellow alleges conducted covert video surveillance at the former matrimonial home for more than an hour without specific consent and in contravention of his licence.
Mr Bowerman told the authority he had Libby Black’s authority and “implied consent” to carry out the covert surveillance.
He said he had been, but was no longer, a lawful occupant of the premises since March, 2009, when he “abandoned” his apartment and moved in to help Ms Black with her personal safety.
Claiming Ms Black was subject to “criminal activities”, Mr Bowerman said: “I was her support person, dealt with security and assisted her with her lawyers.”
Mr Gill said Mr Bowerman had to have specific consent from Ms Black and not just “implied consent” to justify covert video surveillance. Never saying she did not consent was not enough.
If Mr Bowerman could produce evidence Ms Black gave him consent for the surveillance to take place “that’s the end of it”, Mr Gill told him. “Without that you are shot.”
Mr Bowerman said he would not call Ms Black to give evidence in person because she was “litigation fatigued” and “was up for $1 million in legal fees.”
Adjourning the hearing, Mr Gill gave Mr Bowerman until February 22 to get a statement from Ms Black confirming she gave him consent to conduct the covert video surveillance.
The publicity-shy Goodfellow family established a strong philanthropic tradition, supporting education, medical research and aged-care programmes.
Peter Goodfellow is a grandson of Sir William Goodfellow – who founded the family business with Amalgamated Dairies. His partner, Desley Simpson, is chairwoman of the Orakei local board in Auckland and enjoys some celebrity status.