Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Nothing to see here, move along

The police have also reported back on their inquiry into the use of external security consultants, and (as expected) concluded that there has been no systematicly inappropriate behaviour, though a few police officers may have behaved inappropriately. In particular, the report explicitly clears police of involvement in hiring spy Rob Gilchrist to infiltrate the animal rights movement:

Allegations that Police were collaborating with Thompson and Clark to monitor animal rights activists first surfaced in the media in the early 2000s, including a report that Police and Thompson and Clark shared a paid informant. The investigation found no evidence that this had in fact occurred, or that Police has released information to Thompson and Clark about activists involved in animal rights issues.
Except that it is in the public record that Gilchrist's reports went to two Christchurch Special Investigation Group detectives, and that police subsequently settled with him and paid him for the mental damage had had suffered spying for them. If this is the quality of their "inquiry", then the suspicions about it seem absolutely justified.

More generally, the inquiry's methods and the police's poor record keeping give cause to doubt the conclusions. Their method for determining whether police had behaved unlawfully or inappropriately was to simply ask them - not a method likely to result in truthful answers. Meanwhile, the inquiry had no access to financial records more than seven years old, no access to pre-2015 emails until "near the end of the investigation period", some documents simply could not be found, and the inquiry itself expresses doubts that it could identify all relevant documents within the IT system. It really does boil down to police asking themselves whether they'd broken the law, giving themselves the obvious answer, and not looked terribly hard for evidence to the contrary.

Once again, we've seen that the police cannot be trusted to investigate themselves. This issue needed a genuinely independent inquiry. We used one for their coverups of rapes by police officers; we should use one for anti-democratic spying as well.