29 Sep 2011

Lawyer 'appalled' at progress of surveillance bill

3:21 pm on 29 September 2011

A lawyer and academic caught up in an illegal covert SIS operation 15 years ago says rushing through a surveillance bill is an appalling way to make legislation.

A shortened parliamentary select committee process on Thursday concluded public hearings on the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, which the Government intends to pass under urgency next week.

The bill is in response to a Supreme Court ruling that the use of hidden cameras in an operation that culminated in police raids in Urewera in 2007 was illegal. The legislation allows police to resume using covert filming.

In 1996, David Small discovered two Security Intelligence Service agents breaking into the Christchurch home of Aziz Choudry, an organiser of an anti-APEC conference.

Two years later, the Court of Appeal ruled that the SIS had broken the law by tresspassing on Mr Choudry's property.

Dr Small says the SIS claimed at the time it thought it was allowed to break into people's homes to plant listening devices.

He says police claiming a similar defence this time round is incredible.

Dr Small says rushing through legislation, without proper consultation and retrospectively, is an appaling way to amend a bill and it will reward police for not acting lawfully in the first place.