Thursday, August 02, 2018

Ministry of fuckups

I've criticised MPI in the past for being captured by the industries they are supposed to regulate, especially the fishing industry. But it turns out that when MPI does try and prosecute criminal fishers, they fuck it up completely:

An investigation into suspected "large scale fishing fraud" has collapsed following a ruling that a raid involving the Armed Offenders Squad that found evidence stashed in a sewer pipe was illegal.

The Ministry for Primary Industries laid 100 charges under the Fisheries Act based on torn documents found in a sewer breather pipe at the home of Auckland fish dealer Brett Edwards. Also seized was $72,730 cash.

But the charges were dismissed in May after a ruling that the raid was "complete overkill" and a "gross" breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights.


MPI was found to have ignored the law, been "high-handed", "exceptionally economical with the truth", insensitive or callous towards the target of its investigation and failed to own up to its errors.

Judge Raoul Neave said the conduct suggested that "insufficient attention is paid to ensuring that the enforcement officers are properly schooled as to the way in which they should be exercising their powers".

This is absolutely damning. And its not the half of it. There was illegal detention, unreasonable search and seizure, and lying in a plea-bargain. MPI tries to pass this off as "inexperience", but the Judge is very clear that it was "a deliberate tactic adopted by MPI and not a mistake or misunderstanding". But even if we take MPI's excuses at face value, its looking like they can't be trusted with the search powers they have. And it does raise serious questions about oversight. The police are scrutinised in the use of their powers by the Independent Police Conduct Authority. But who scrutinises MPI?

From the look of this, Edwards is owed significant damages for the abuse of his rights. I hope he sues and wins, because that seems to be the only way to get government ministries to obey the law.