27 Mar 2012

Teapot tape camerman wants apology from PM

8:49 am on 27 March 2012

The cameraman at the centre of the so-called teapot tape saga says his reputation has suffered since the incident and would welcome an apology from the Prime Minister.

John Key complained to police during last year's election campaign, about the secret taping of a conversation he had with ACT candidate John Banks at a cafe in the Epsom electorate on 11 November last year.

The meeting was widely seen as Mr Key endorsing Mr Banks in the electorate, which Mr Banks went on to win. Their conversation was recorded on a recording device in a small bag left by freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose on the cafe table.

After a four-month inquiry, police on Monday said the recording was most likely deliberate, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

Bradley Ambrose has written a letter to Mr Key and Mr Banks. In it, the cameraman said he regretted passing the cafe recording on to a newspaper.

However, Mr Ambrose maintains that the taping was accidental and his legal advice is that it was a public conversation regardless.

He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday that the Prime Minister's comments following the incident were inaccurate and defamatory.

"There were comments that he put out there that were incorrect, that were quite defamatory towards me and I would quite happily accept an apology from him."

Mr Ambrose says in some ways he would have liked to fight the case in court to restore his reputation and believes this would have cleared his name. He is talking with his lawyers about possibly taking defamation action.

The Prime Minister and Mr Banks have welcomed the police decision.

Paper feels vindicated

The Herald on Sunday was the first news organisation to receive the recording and still has not published what is in it.

Editor Bryce Johns told Morning Report the newspaper is feeling a degree of vindication and it has been cleared of wrongdoing, as there is no link to it in the police statement.

"They haven't talked to anyone at the Herald on Sunday, let alone accused us of doing anything unlawful. So it's just absolutely as we've thought going to play out."

Mr Johns says he always thought there was never much of a chance of charges being laid, and cameraman Bradley Ambrose has unjustifiably been put through the wringer for four months.

But the Media Freedom Committee believes the outcome is unsatisfactory and untidy.

Chairperson Tim Murphy says nothing has been resolved and questions still hang over matter, including why a police complaint was deemed necessary in the first place and why it was necessary for police to then raid newsrooms.