14 Feb 2013

Judge describes Dotcom case as a procedural mess

6:06 pm on 14 February 2013

A Court of Appeal judge has described a case relating to internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom as an "utter procedural mess".

Mr Dotcom has filed judicial review proceedings challenging search warrants police obtained to search his property in January 2012. A High Court decision in December allowed Mr Dotcom to take action against the Government's spy agency and seek monetary compensation from it.

The judge's comment was made during an attempt by the Crown to overturn the High Court ruling forcing the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to give Mr Dotcom's lawyers a large amount of information relating to surveillance it carried out on him.

The Crown's lawyer on Thursday told the Court of Appeal that the High Court was wrong to allow that, as the spy agency had already admitted liability for acting unlawfully in its surveillance of Mr Dotcom.

David Boldt said such disclosure carried a security risk and could also delay the extradition hearing at which a decision will be made over whether Mr Dotcom, a German national with New Zealand residency, can be sent to the United States to face internet piracy charges.

Mr Boldt told the Court of Appeal the case has mushroomed and the High Court has now effectively required GCSB to produce material unrelated to the warrants and searches at the heart of the proceedings.

He said the GCSB had nothing to do with obtaining the search warrants or the search itself, and if action is to be taken against it, that should be done in a separate case.

However Mr Dotcom's lawyer, William Akel, said it was in the interests of justice for the GCSB to be joined to the proceedings and the High Court judge had a discretion to do that.

Earlier in the day, Court of Appeal president Justice O'Regan suggested that Mr Akel was employing delaying tactics, but Mr Akel denied that.

The court has reserved its decision.