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Police were right not to prosecute GCSB officers - watchdog

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found the police were justified in not prosecuting GCSB officers after it found they unlawfully intercepted private communications.

In 2012 Green Party co-leader Russel Norman had asked the police to investigate whether any GCSB officers had committed a criminal offence after revelations that the GCSB had unlawfully intercepted private communications involving Kim Dotcom.

The police had avoided prosecuting spies which carried out illegal surveillance on Mr Dotcom and his co-accused, Bram van der Kolk.

In 2013 Dr Norman complained to the authority alleging neglect of duty by police in relation to their investigation and the findings arising from it.

Independent Police Conduct Authority chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said the report considered three matters of concern;

  1. The police reliance on an absence of criminal intent to reach a decision;
  2. The appointment of Kristy McDonald QC to oversee their investigation;
  3. The Police failure to investigate an additional 56, potentially unlawful, interceptions by the GCSB that had been identified in the report to the Prime Minister by the former Secretary to the Cabinet Rebecca Kitteridge.

The police’s actions were justified in all three areas, Sir David said in a statement.

Sir David said that the authority had full access to all relevant information, although its investigation had been of limited scope.

“It is not the role of the Authority to investigate the activities of the GCSB, nor is it our role to determine the accuracy of the legal advice provided to the Police by the Solicitor-General.”

“We are solely concerned with examining whether there has been any misconduct or neglect of duty by the Police,” he said in a statement. 

vyoung@nbr.co.nz

More by Victoria Young

Comments and questions
16

Finally some sense has prevailed! Can Russell Norman please stand up, and with HIS OWN money pay for Independent Police Conduct Authority chair Judge Sir David Carruthers. Norman is always quick to spend your & my money i.e. the taxpayer, but you never hear of him backing his beliefs with his own money.

Yes wonderful jp. Only it wont be so wonderful one day if the GCSB decided they wanted to unlawfully intercept YOUR private communications (I am assuming you are a permanent resident). Guess what - you will have no recourse to prevent them.
It is a disgraceful outcome (it is immaterial that it is the odious Dotcom involved).

They are welcome to intercept my personal communications any day. I would suggest however that they bring a good book or a DVD to watch. Otherwise I fear they will die from boredom.

Too true.

If Norman is so concerned about "illegal activity" why on earth is he attempting to side with a recidivist, multiply convicted fraudster against the NZ taxpayer... as he woefully attempts to stand for Parliament to represent all the tax payers?

Moreover, why is Norman & the Greens attempting to jump into a big political bed with the convict who has teamed up with the racist party?

Surely for the sake of his own credibility and the double standards his cognitive dissonance projects, Norman would be better to side with most Kiwi's and tax payers and climb out of the convicts pocket?

Are you so obtuse that you do not understand for Justice to work it has to protect everyone not just the people you like? Sheesh I loathe that big fat Oligarch, but the way the Government rolled over for the illegal American fishing expedition just to curry favour should scare the bejesus out of anyone in this country who believes in the right to the rule of Law. So far we have Police refusing to take action when their own oversight body says they acted illegally and now the Police again violate justice by refusing to apply the law against the Government. How very third world we have become.

Or, there are just systemic cracks in the system and a minor error at the very beginning snowballed with the willing help of defense attorneys and willing media eager to help their Labour mates - because getting new list MP's should not be the sole domain of TVNZ.

Just unwind the overly-tight tin foil turban and you'll find an entirely different perspective..

Illegal spying is not a "minor crack in the system", and the justification that there was no "criminal intent" is not in the slightest bit consistent with NZ law as it has always been understood.

You're apologizing for criminal actions by people whose job it is to know better, and it's pretty disgusting to see. I'd like to see how you go with that defense if you ever find yourself hauled in front of a judge. Then you'll find that it's currently one interpretation of the law for the police and another for the rest of us.

The tin foil turban comment is also a completely unjustified ad-hom attack.

You are missing the point of principal, the spying was illegal the Police knew this but decided not to prosecute as "there was no criminal intent" this should set a useful precedent in many cases. Public perception is the final court of reality in terms of trust and I feel this is being eroded at an increasing rate - viz - Very few cases involving public bodies or MP's ever result in prosecution let alone real accountability and Joe Public sees this as club protection be it Politicians/Police/Judges/Govt Departments so the system becomes corrupt in their eyes and eventually trust is so diminished that society breaks down.

Finally sense has prevailed.
Don't be so stupid jp
Another whitewash

Stinks.

So who exactly are the GCSB accountable to then if not the law of the land itself?

>"The police reliance on an absence of criminal intent to reach a decision"

Ahh, hurray!

I presume the same rules apply for us private citizens with regard to taxes, speeding and various other areas where we may have not intent to commit a crime?

So encouraged to see that ignorance now indeed is a sound defence.

Or does this only apply to government?

No one waiting for a fire engine to arrive and rescue people trapped in a burning building ever complain about the fire truck doing more than 50 km/h in a 50km/h zone to reach them...

Or is it only "selective law breaking" according to you allowed?

Ever heard of the principle of "do no harm" . The Fire Engine is aiding society. The GCSB by breaching our collective rights to privacy dinishes all of us not just DOT COM. But that is how it always goes as long as the Government acts illegally against people I don't like I do not care. Right up until the time it turns on me and by then it is way toolate.

"The Fire Engine is aiding society."

So is the GCSB!

But because they don't have sirens where ever they go and are "invisible" by the very nature of the work they must undertake, no one gets to see or hear about them - except when there's possibly some political mileage to make by creating a "privacy crisis" from which to use a soapbox to give oneself some kind of mandate to shrill about.

So who and how do you propose to stop internet crimes if not the GCSB? The ISP's can't until the Court orders them to, so who and how do you propose will protect NZ and her peoples from cyber criminals who never follow laws?

Bad analogy Bloke. Under the Fire Service Act, when responding to an emergency, the fire engine is exempt from complying with the speed limit. Try again.

This ruling was to be expected: IPCA and GCSB were always going to be in lock step with each other because as well as being govt agencies they're also brothers-in arms.