28 Sep 2012

English defends signing Dotcom document

2:20 pm on 28 September 2012

Finance Minister Bill English says he was right to sign a document blocking information about a government spy agency's involvement in the Kim Dotcom case - and in the same circumstances would do it again.

Earlier this week, the High Court released the Ministerial Certificate the minister signed regarding the Government Communications Security Bureau's (GCSB) involvement.

Mr Dotcom, a German national who has New Zealand residency, is fighting extradition to the United States to face copyright, money laundering and fraud charges.

The certificate was signed by Mr English, who was acting Prime Minister while John Key was overseas, after Mr Dotcom's lawyer requested from Crown Law all information relating to the case that was intercepted by the GCSB and provided to police.

The GCSB has been found to have acted illegally in spying on Mr Dotcom. A report issued on Thursday said the agency relied on false information provided by police which said the internet entrepreneur was not a New Zealand resident.

The report by Justice Paul Neazor also says the GCSB and police misinterpreted the Immigration Act, which changed in 2010 altering Mr Dotcom's status and giving him protection from being spied on.

Bill English told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Friday he was right when acting as Prime Minister to sign the certificate.

"In a situation like that I would sign it again. It's just part of the normal way of dealing with an intelligence agency."

The minister said because of the way the issue has unfolded, the GCSB's activities have come to the public's attention - whereas they would normally remain secret.

Mr English said mistakes in law have been brought to the public's attention and corrective action is being taken.

Opposition parties are calling for a full and independent inquiry into the Dotcom spying blunder, saying Thursday's report is insufficient.