Thursday, May 21, 2009

Don Brash versus the laws of evidence

Poor Don Brash - still whining after all these years about his "stolen" (leaked) emails. And still utterly failing to understand that, unless the leaker comes forward, there is nothing the police can do about it. Why not? Because - contra 24, the police can't just beat answers out of people. Nor can they just kick in doors and search for stolen documents. In order to that, they need a search warrant, and that in turn requires showing a judge they have reasonable grounds to believe that said documents will be in a particular place. Absent something like a witness saying they saw them printing Brash's emails, or emails released to police showing that they had been corresponding with Nicky Hager about dropping off the latest "package", that's just not enough.

What about Hager himself? Brash contrasts the police's handling of Hager with its pursuit of a search warrant against TV3's John Campbell over his interview with the Waiouru medal thief. But while journalists can be ordered to reveal their sources, the threshold is very high, requiring a High Court Judge to balance the public interest in forcible disclosure against the public interest in both the communication of facts by the media and the ability of the media to access sources. That balance isn't clear in the case of Campbell, but it is clear in the case of Hager: I cannot imagine a judge forcing disclosure in a highly political leak case in which there was a high public interest in exposure and the alleged crime is so minor. And neither, I expect, can the police.

This isn't a "conspiracy", it isn't "political bias" - it's the simple laws of evidence. But Brash it seems would rather retreat into paranoia and conspiracy theories than accept that he was betrayed by someone in his own party and that they are (quite sensibly) keeping silent about it.