17 Nov 2011

Media outlets face search warrants for 'tea party' material

9:58 pm on 17 November 2011

Four news media outlets - Radio New Zealand among them - face the prospect of police search warrants for unpublished material regarding the cafe conversation between National's John Key and ACT's John Banks.

Police have said they are preparing search warrants against four news media as part of their investigation of a complaint from the National Party leader that his conversation with Mr Banks when they sat down fro a cup of tea in the Auckland cafe was illegally recorded.

Officers working on the case have contacted Radio New Zealand wanting unpublished material relating to interviews it conducted with the cameraman who made the recording and which he gave to the Herald on Sunday newspaper.

Television New Zealand and TV3 have also been asked to give information to police.

Herald on Sunday editor Bryce Johns said it had not yet been approached by police.

Radio New Zealand's head of news, Don Rood, says police have the interview that went to air, but he is refusing to hand over any material gathered by news staff in the course of getting the broadcast excerpt.

He says Radio New Zealand will always protect its sources and the right to gather and report news in the public interest.

Mr Rood says police told him that they would get a search warrant and execute it on Thursday or Friday and he says Radio New Zealand will take legal action to prevent the release of the material to police.

A police spokesperson says police are following standard procedures in obtaining material from the media under a search warrant.

Radio New Zealand says it does not have a copy of the original recording at the centre of the complaint.

John Key, who was in Whangarei on Thursday, said police action further to the complaint he laid was out of his hands, as police act independently.

When asked whether his complaint was a good use of police time, Mr Key said National had lowered the crime rate across the country and police had a little bit of spare time.

But the president of the Police Association, Greg O'Connor, says John Key may want to re-think his statement "in the cold light of day".

"Police have always got something to do", he says.

Peters shares what he believes is on 'cuppa tea' tape

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, has given some detail of what he believes was said by Mr Key and Mr Banks in their cafe conversation.

In a speech given in Invercargill, Mr Peters says the two men discussed the future of the ACT Party.

He says Mr Banks described the leader Don Brash as a strange fellow and Mr Key said former ACT president Catherine Isaac should be the leader.

Ms Isaac is ranked number two on the ACT party list.

Mr Peters says Mr Key also said New Zealand First's constituents were dying off.

Mr Peters will not reveal the source of his information, but Radio New Zealand understands he does not have a copy of the recording.

Mr Key has declined to comment on the content of Mr Peter's speech.