3 Oct 2012

Spy agency investigations becoming farcical - Shearer

8:47 am on 3 October 2012

Labour leader David Shearer says investigations into the illegal surveillance of Kim Dotcom are becoming farcical, with the announcement that police are now investigating the matter.

The Government announced on Monday that Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge will oversee a review of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), following revelations of its unlawful involvement in the Dotcom case.

Now Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has confirmed that a senior police investigator has begun work on the case, and that work will be reviewed by a Wellington QC, Kristy McDonald.

Mr Shearer told Parliament on Tuesday that "the police are investigating GCSB for acting illegally at the request of the police, who gave them the information that was wrong in the first place. So this is becoming very farcical."

A report released last Thursday by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, found the GCSB relied on incorrect police information about Mr Dotcom's residency status and did not check further.

Mr Dotcom acquired New Zealand residency in 2010 and the bureau is not allowed to spy on New Zealand residents.

PM renews criticism of Green complaint

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key has renewed his criticism of the Green Party's complaint to police accusing the GCSB of breaching the Crimes Act.

"Even if it's a politically motivated stunt," Mr Key says, "the police have a responsibility to take complaints seriously, and so if they go and decide to have someone look at the matter, I welcome that. But in the end it should be seen for what it is - a political stunt."

Police say they're treating the investigation as a matter of urgency.

The Green Party says police must hold spies to the same standards as other New Zealanders and must prosecute if they conclude that government spies broke the law.

Green co-leader Russel Norman says the police inquiry needs to be comprehensive and thorough.

He expects the investigation will explain whether the surveillance was a mistake, or whether officials knew it was unlawful.

United Future leader and government minister Peter Dunne says the unlawful surveillance was probably due to incompetence but raises questions of whether pressure from US law enforcement agencies was involved.