Tuesday, July 16, 2013

As expected

The police have refused to waste their time investigating Winston Peters' allegations of "espionage" against Peter Dunne:

Police has completed its assessment of a complaint laid by New Zealand First regarding the release of information about the "Review of Compliance at the GCSB" report to a Fairfax journalist.

The complaint was assessed in terms of section 78(a) of the Crimes Act 1961 and section 20(a) of the Summary Offences Act 1981.

After considering the information presented by the complainant police are satisfied that no offence is disclosed and that further investigation will fail to provide evidence leading to a prosecution under either piece of legislation.

That's not surprising. Section 78(a) (espionage) requires "intent to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand" - something difficult to argue in a case of leaking, and impossible when the Prime Minister says that the information was not harmful. The Summary Offences Act charge is even more laughable, since it requires knowledge that an unauthorised release of official information would be likely to prejudice a long list of interests (essentially s6 OIA, minus "national security"), none of which can possibly apply.

But the complaint has served its purpose: Winston has banged the patriotism drum and got his headline. And he can now bang it some more while denouncing the police as "traitors".

(Meanwhile, I'm deeply disturbed to see that we still have criminal penalties for the wrongful release of official information on the books. I thought we'd gotten rid of that shit when we repealed the Official Secrets Act...)