Thursday, December 18, 2008

Police spied on unions

The police spying scandal just gets worse and worse. In addition to spying on activist groups and political parties, it also seems that the police spied on unions. Police spy Rob Gilchrist systematically passed on emails from the CTU, EPMU, NDU, NUPE, the SFWU and Maritime Union. The emails cover protests, pickets, demonstrations, and conferences. None suggest any sort of illegal activity - only run of the mill campaigning and labour disputes.

There is reportedly no record that the police requested this information. Neither is there any record that they asked him not to. It is reasonable to conclude that if the police wanted information that was more focused on illegal activity, they would have said so. Instead, they seem to have been running a general dragnet, collecting political intelligence on left-wing groups engaging in perfectly ordinary and legal protest activities (a conclusion supported by the specific questions they asked about climate change and anti-war groups).

This shows the lie behind the Prime Minister's claims that the police were acting properly and focusing only on threats to national security. They weren't - not unless you think a bunch of unionists getting together to paint protest banners, or underpaid KFC workers going on strike is "a threat to national security".

The worry is that someone in the police Threat Assessment Unit and Special Investigation Group clearly thinks they are.

(I have worse to come...)

Update: And more from the Herald here. I have the emails in question (those relating to unions, at least), and they are utterly innocuous, with no suggestion of any sort of criminal activity. The police should have no interest in them whatsoever, and the fact that they did suggests a police force that is seriously out of control.