Sparks fly in Dotcom spy drama
Sparks flew today as lawyers and a judge clashed over what police and spies did, or didn't do, around last year's Kim Dotcom mansion raid.
The Crown was in the Court of Appeal attempting to overturn a High Court ruling requiring the top-secret Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to reveal secret details of their surveillance of accused internet piracy mogul Mr Dotcom.
Crown lawyer David Boldt's assertion the GCSB had nothing to do with the much-publicised dawn raid by armed police was rejected by Dotcom lawyer Willie Akel.
Mr Akel asserted the GCSB was fully involved in the search warrant, to which Mr Boldt claimed the spy bureau had nothing to do with the original search warrant.
Mr Boldt claimed the GCSB information was "very limited. It yielded virtually nothing – it was just bland background information".
Mr Akel’s attempts to be granted disclosure of information provided by the GCSB to the police relating to the investigation appeared fell on deaf ears as he addressed Justices Mark O’Regan, Terence Arnold and Rhys Harrison.
In a heated exchange, Justice O’Regan questioned why Mr Akel had filed for full disclosure when all he wanted to know was the length of surveillance and to whom the disclosure was made.
“What we’ve been told by the Crown is we’re having a major delay and a major problem because a whole lot of secure information is having to be disclosed, which means the security council is involved and so forth," Justice O'Regan said.
“If the only relevant matters are how long was the surveillance for and who was the disclosure to, why are you asking for disclosure for the entire file, when you know that’s going to delay the proceedings by some time,” he said.
“It won’t delay the proceedings,” Mr Akel retorted.
“Why have you asked for it, that is the question. If you say it’s not necessary why are you asking for it?" Justice O'Regan asked.
“We considerate it is necessary,” replied Mr Akel.
Chief High Court Justice Helen Winkelmann’s decision in December not only allowed the GCSB to be included as a defendant in Dotcom’s case, it also allowed Dotcom to seek damages from both the police and the GCSB.
Mr Boldt earlier asked the court to look at whether it was even appropriate to combine a judicial review with a damages claim.
"If the damages claim doesn't disrupt, slow down or complicate the review, it might be okay," Mr Boldt said.
The Crown was still anxious to appeal last June's ruling that the raid on Dotcom's Coatesville mansion was unlawful, but had not yet had time to do so, he said.
The appeal is continuing.