Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Redacting their dirty laundry

Earlier in the year, in response to a litany of abuse by EQC, MBIE, and others, the government initiated an inquiry into the government's use of Thompson and Clark Investigations, New Zealand's private anti-left-wing spy agency. In September, after Stuff exposed how the Police also used Thompson and Clark, they announced their own inquiry. As I understand it, the inquiry is now completed, but the report has not yet been released publicly. But the police have released their internal correspondence about it under the OIA.

The first interesting point: while there's some talk of cooperation with the SSC's inquiry (even though they are not covered by it), the police's own internal inquiry only happened when they are kicked into it by DPMC after direct questions were asked to the Prime Minister about the Stuff story. Which suggests a lack of willingness to be proactive on the issue.

As for the rest, there's a lot of redactions in there, ostensibly under s6(c) to prevent prejudice to the maintenance of the law because of the inquiries underway by the SSC and Police. I've blogged about that particular issue here, and I will be taking the opportunity to challenge those redactions. Hopefully a clear ombudsman's ruling will end that bullshit forever. Some of the redactions are supposedly under s9(2)(h) to protect legal privilege, which is interesting, given that the participant who is obviously a lawyer - Sarah Baddeley - is acting for SSC, not the police, so there's no solicitor/client privilege. And because the police haven't followed good practice and identified the reasons for each redaction, it means that everything has to be challenged (and if they haven't documented the reason for each patch of black, well, I doubt the Ombudsman will be very impressed).

But what's interesting is what they redact. Because there are repeated mentions of areas where police have worked with TCIL, "known areas", and potential areas the inquiry could touch on. These are all redacted. It is clear the police are aware of issues, and are simply trying to keep them secret.