GUEST BLOG: Ross Meurant – John Campbell’s critique of state spying is disturbing


State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes recent condemnation of surveillance of persons, “just because they are lawfully exercising their democratic rights, including their right to freedom of expression, association and right to protest”, appears to be some variance with a police determination that, no Crime has been committed.  

Mr. Hughes was dealing with complaints from the public over Operation Exploration.  This involved NZP&M, the New Zealand Police, Thompson & Clark and various private sector oil and gas companies involved in offshore Taranaki exploration and production. According to an investigation, the MEJIG was under police leadership, but “the operating tempo of when that group met was often determined by Thompson & Clark“. 

I’ll come back to Thompson and Co later.

As I understand the rules, we are each of us is entitled to secretly record anyone with whom we are in dialogue.   If I’m right in this determination, then the following events may well not constitute a crime and the police utterance, is technically correct.

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Police had also found no criminal wrongdoing.

“After thorough consideration of all the information available to the investigation team, police have determined that there was no evidence found of criminal offending or unlawful conduct of any nature,” Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said.

Furthermore, the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority investigation found TCIL did not breach the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010, nor was it guilty of misconduct, Police said in a statement.

However, it seems to me that when a concern raised by a Public servant of the esteem of Peter Hughes mana can blithely be swept aside, we have a problem.

When I say that this is a matter for Cabinet, it is because in my view, a law change may well be a next step.  

What in particular I find disturbing, is the penchant of police (and other government agencies) to use private investigators to conduct enquiries which are by statue, attributed to different government departments.   This is tantamount to some (invariably) poorly educated self-styled James Bond, given the right to look in your nickers draw.

Reading John’s NZ Under Surveillance it seems that he and I share a concern here.

Welcome back John.  The country needs the caliber of investigative journalism you are able to deliver. 


Ross is an international businessman and entrepreneur. In 2016 Ross was appointed Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Morocco. In New Zealand he is trustee and managing director of absentee Russian owned forestry and commercial property.

Ross has a bachelor degree in politics and management, a master’s degree in economics, statistics, law and policy and C.O.P’s in law.

From 2004 he lived and worked in Zimbabwe, Russia, Czech Republic, Thailand and the Balkans.

Since 2005 Ross has established business interests in aqua culture and fisheries development – from Morocco to Syria: U.A.E and North Korea.

In 2015 Ross was prime speaker on sustainable fisheries as guest of the Moroccan government at CRANZ Montana ‘Sustainable Resources: Africa’ conference, and an official guest at the 2017 forum.

A former Member of Parliament (1987–1996) and Member and the Executive Council of New Zealand in the National government, Ross was Under Secretary (junior minister) Agriculture & Forestry; Cabinet Committee Industry & Commerce & Chair Select Committee Fisheries.

Subsequent to parliament, he owned equestrian facilities; was elected to local government as a councilor; consulted to several major fishing companies, was engaged by parliamentary services as adviser to Rt. Hon Winston Peters and emerged as a key figure in the Scampi Affair, which falsely alleged political corruption.

Prior to entering parliament, Ross had been 21 years in the police.  Service included: detective on Regional Crime Squad and Drug Squad; 5 years Armed Offenders Squad, second in command of the infamous Red Squad, and commissioned officer in charge of police spies i.e. Criminal Intelligence Section and V.I.P. Security.


  1. You cannot secretly record a conversation without the consent of those being recorded in this country. That is illegal.

    A warrant is required for Police to do the same typically , – any drug bust. IE ; phone tapping. Same for the SIS or GSCB etc.

    That’s why John Key tried it on with the reporter who left his microphone running.

    And the logic partially behind it is that the person recorded may say things that incriminate him/her without the advise of a lawyer among other things.

    • “You cannot secretly record a conversation without the consent of those being recorded in this country. That is illegal.”

      Sorry WK, that is quite incorrect. Anyone is entitled to record a conversation, even secretly, if they are party to said conversation. What is illegal is recording a conversation that you are not party to.

      I’ll sight two examples;

      1. JLR recording various conversations with Bridges et al. Bridges etc didn’t know those conversations were being recorded (but should have assumed so). Perfectly legal.

      2. Todd Barkley recording his electorate office staff. Illegal. We all know what happened there…

      • So would one of t and c’s shills attending a meeting misrepresenting themself as an affected claimant, be considered to be a party to the conversation Liberal Realist?

      • What about recording a conversation with someone that you have misrepresented your identity too?
        I don’t believe police can just do that when they are under cover, they need a warrant of some description for such surveillance, otherwise any sort of spy recording is valid and the permissions currently needed are redundant, not that there are many checks and balances left these days.

  2. Funny how John Key went ballistic when he was secretly recorded by Ambrose (name?) When he had his fucking cuppa tea with that dick John Banks

    Ambrose got arrested by the cops and sued by Key. Media got their offices raided

    All hell broke loose

    But when the cops do it, suddenly its all ok?? WTF is up with that??

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