Citizens vs the Rogue Deep State

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Blogger Martyn Bradbury has won his case against unreasonable search and surveillance against the NZ Police; and subsequent Police attempts to produce evidence in secrecy, in a closed Court.

His case highlights a disturbing growing trend in Aotearoa New Zealand for State power to be used against anyone who has “run foul” of The Establishment:

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    • 2009: An attack by then Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, against two solo-mothers who criticised National’s social welfare policies. Ms Bennett released personal information pertaining to the two women’s financial circumstances to silence their criticism. Ms Bennett’s actions were deemed to have been a breach of their privacy.
    • 2011: Police searched several media offices during the “Teapot Tapes” controversy. Radio NZ’s Don Rood said Radio NZ would refuse to hand over any material that might compromise anonymous sources.
    • 2014: The illegal search and seizure of Nicky Hager’s property as retribution for his investigation into the close links between a far-right blogger and the National Party. Police were attempting to uncover the identity of the whistle-blower known as “Rawshark”. The search (and seizure of property) of Mr Hager’s home was later deemed unlawful.
    • 2017: The leaking of Winston Peters’ superannuation details as part of a patently obvious political dirty tricks campaign. Senior civil servants passed on details to then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley – the latter admitting in Court to disclosing those details to others. Mr Peters’ case was then leaked to the media prior to the 2017 General Election, ostensibly to destroy his political career and his party’s chances for re-election. The case is currently on-going.

This illustrates why so many New Zealanders – including the dogged John Campbell through his former programme, ‘Campbell Live’ – were 100% justified in opposing increasing the surveillance powers of the GCSB, SIS, Police, and god knows who else.

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The abuse of State agencies’ power – already considerable – showed how warranted our fears were. And still are.

It is why I made a submission in 2013 to the Justice Select committee on the GCSB Bill (which would permit surveillance of New Zealanders in our own country) should not only stop – but that the powers of the GCSB should be re-set to those of 1977. Then a full public enquiry held to determine what, if any, changes really needed to be made.

I still believe this more than ever to be necessary.

Secondly, the so-called Police apology to Martyn Bradbury is notable for an appalling part of their statement;

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“Police apologise for the stress and other psychological harm caused to you by virtue of YOUR INVOLVEMENT in this investigation.” [My emphasis.]

That is insulting phaseology and is a sly suggestion that blame continues to lie with Martyn Bradbury. It strongly suggests that Police hierarchy have yet to fully comprehend the nature of their abuse of power.

Additionally, there was also financial and reputational harm caused to Martyn by Police abuse of their power. It is now clear that he was denied bank loans as a direct consequence of improper Police activity.

The appropriate phrasing should have been;

“Police apologise for the financial, reputational, stress, and other psychological harm caused to you by virtue of our over-zealous actions that inappropriately involved you in our investigation.”

That phrasing would be accepting responsibility. The original wording barely achieves that.

Lastly, someone authorised this illegal activity. Those individual(s) are still in positions of authority within the New Zealand Police. They still wield power – unbridled power.

I find that troubling in the extreme.

There must be resignation(s) from the Police force. Someone must be held to account.

Just as the rest of us are, under the law.

Famous Last Words

From Parliament, on 27 March 2003, when the Government Communications Security Bureau Bill was being debated;

“This is a good bill. I do not accept the criticism of those who speak against it, that somehow it means that information about people will be gathered improperly…” – Peter Dunne, then-MP and leader of the United Future Party, speaking on behalf of a Bill to extend the power of the GCSB

Media Reporting

Perhaps even more shameful than Police behaviour has been that of the Fourth Estate reporting this issue to the public. Search engine checks (and confirmation by Martyn Bradbury) have both confirmed that only the NZ Herald and Magic Talk radio have reported the outcome of this case and the Police backdown and apology. The Herald article is pay-walled and consequently of little use to non-subscribers.

The Police abuse of power and the gross invasion of Martyn Bradbury’s private life could happen to any of us. But you wouldn’t know it going by the Total Media Blackout at TVNZ, Mediaworks/TV3, Fairfax/Stuff, and even sadly – Radio NZ.

Perhaps if TV3, TVNZ, et al, had reported less of the gruesome details of two current murder court cases, the public of Aotearoa New Zealand might be more informed on one of the most important civil rights cases in recent years.

Imagine if every mainstream media devoted the same scrutiny and reporting of Martyn Bradbury’s civil rights case against the police as they did to Grace Millane’s drinking on the night leading up to her demise.

We might be a very well-informed nation indeed. Sadly that is not the reality.

We have been let down badly by those empowered to preserve the law, and by those we entrust to speak truth to power. The media are supposedly tasked to shine a light on events that are of crucial importance to society; to the people; and to every individual.The freedom of the Fourth Estate is critical, they keep telling us, as a bulwark against State excess; to promote openness; and to hold those in power accountable.

They utterly failed us.

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The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”

– John Philpot Curran (24 July 1750 – 14 October 1817)

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References

The Daily Blog:  5 years and finally justice – NZ Police formally apologise & settle for breaching my civil rights

The Daily Blog:  My case against a secret NZ Police investigation that breached my privacy and my civil rights

The Daily Blog:  Kafka’s Shadow – My hearing against NZ Police & secret trials

Fairfax/Stuff media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

Fairfax/Stuff media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

NZ Herald:  TV3 searched over teapot tape

Fairfax/Stuff media: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

NZ Herald: Police pay Nicky Hager ‘substantial damages’ for unlawful search of his home in hunt for Dirty Politics hacker

Radio NZ: Anne Tolley admits ‘outburst’ in Winston Peters superannuation case

Mediaworks/Newshub: Police accessed blogger’s bank records unlawfully – report

Parliament: Hansards – Government Communications Security Bureau Bill – Third Reading

NZ Herald: ‘Bomber’ Bradbury gets apology from police after exploit used to access bank records, driving him to the edge

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB Act – some history…

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The secret closed trials of Soviet Russia. (And Aotearoa New Zealand)

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This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Agree 100%.

    As well as the grudging apology it was not even signed by the police commissioner.

    Does not make the police look accountable or understand what they did was wrong.

    If the Natz were in, they would have not apologised at all and got their secret evidence through to set the precedent making NZ even more Kafka than it is already going.

  2. And now we have the police heavily armed on our streets ready to shoot and looking for action, not what they said they would be doing or why they were put there in the the first place. Something is seriously wrong here giving more power to a group that already have too much power and they have shown they are racist who will get shot? more brown people that is who.

  3. “Perhaps if TV3, TVNZ, et al, had reported less of the gruesome details of two current murder court cases, the public of Aotearoa New Zealand might be more informed on one of the most important civil rights cases in recent years.

    Imagine if every mainstream media devoted the same scrutiny and reporting of Martyn Bradbury’s civil rights case against the police as they did to Grace Millane’s drinking on the night leading up to her demise.

    We might be a very well-informed nation indeed. Sadly that is not the reality.”

    I agree Frank thats the modt concerning of everything thats happened with Martyn

    The news blackout means 99% of the country has no idea what has transpired . If there were no blogs it would be closer to 100%

    Especially disappointed in RNZ. I expect better from them

  4. Frank, agree 100% with what you’re saying here. The NZ Police letter to Martyn Bradbury was a disgrace.

    Chances are that this was omission-by-brain, rather than a deliberate intent to be offensive; top drawer
    professionals are not in govt departments, they’re out in the private sector. (As an aside this is why the NZ Health Dept is such an abyssmal performer.)

    I thought this initially, and again today with a name and job title on today’s Stuff. This is perhaps the most long-winded public service job title I have ever come across.

    It is followed by a statement so clumsily-worded and semantically incorrect, that as a tax-payer I am annoyed to see our money being wasted like this. The cliched jargon reads like an entry in a joke competition:

    “Writing in response to the letter, Jane Archibald, NZ Police media and communications deputy chief executive, said New Zealand was one of the most heavily tattooed countries in the world and most new recruits were inked.

    But one of the most commonly asked questions of the police recruitment team was whether tattoos were allowed, she said.

    “We respect that not everyone likes tattoos or wants to get one, nor do you need to have one in order to apply to become a police officer.

    “It is just one way of telling the stories about the uniqueness of each staff member behind the uniform and we hope it will encourage others to sign up for a great career with the NZ Police.”

    I take issue with Jane saying, “We respect that not everyone..” I suggest she should have said, “We accept that not everyone likes tattoos.”

    Saying, “..nor do you need one in order to become a police officer…” is an insult to readers’ intelligence.

    Insulting the public seems to be a new diabolical public service norm.

    Few, if any, would think that they need a tattoo to become a cop, and this is simply setting up a straw bimbo to shoot down, on the assumption that everyone out in the real world is dumb except the writer trying to impress us – and failing.

    “Sign up for a great career with the NZ Police” is lazy brochure talk. That whole sentence is. Some govt depts now communicate by cutting and pasting from existing in-house sources – possibly just due to indolence – but again showing a lack of respect for the recipient, and often missing the focus.

    I recently had a day of emailing with another non-sworn police female from something I got dumped in; it started with sloppy casualness and patronising jargon, and ended with an apology from her. It assumed that I was dim, and upset me; I now assume that the police employ non-sworn women based on their looks rather than on talent.

    The assertion from a blogger here that gangs have infiltrated the police, also has to be taken seriously.

    It certainly doesn’t make me feel any safer, and nor does it make the job of good cops any easier – it could put them at risk too. It can also been seen as a pernicious smear of the NZ Police force, and this is socially unhealthy, and unsettling – and unfair on us all. I hope that blogger has reported what he/she knows, to the NZ Police.

  5. Well said Frank;

    The Police minister has been strangely quiet over this?

    I would expect him to step into this confirming ‘Martyn’s total vindication’ over this ‘sham effort to bully Martyn’.

    But it seems Mr Nash does not want to clear Martyn’s name entirely?

    This is disturbing me greatly here.

  6. Hi Frank thank you for your post it is very timely and it raises some very pertinent points.

    One issue is the lack of reporting about Martyns case which is not as surprising as it is dangerous.

    ” The Police abuse of power and the gross invasion of Martyn Bradbury’s private life could happen to any of us. But you wouldn’t know it going by the Total Media Blackout at TVNZ, Mediaworks/TV3, Fairfax/Stuff, and even sadly – Radio NZ ”

    Just a couple days after this decision i contacted Stuff and RNZ too ask why this story had not been covered in particular by RNZ who i would have thought should have covered this in detail ( unlikely that Stuff could do any analysis as they are only interested in soap opera stories )

    I have yet to receive a reply not even an acknowledgement that i had contacted them.

    It is safe too assume that this story is dead and who is Martyn Bradbury anyway !
    as he is not rich and is not a high profile celebrity or MP.

  7. Well said Frank;

    The Police minister has been strangely quiet over this?

    I would expect him to step into this confirming ‘Martyn’s total vindication’ over this ‘sham effort to bully Martyn’.

    But it seems Mr Nash does not want to clear Martyn’s name entirely?

    This is disturbing me greatly here.

    • Why does it disturb you Cleangreen the man is an idiot (nash) ps. i voted labour @ the last election but if they don’t get their shit together i wont vote for them next time.

  8. Twas a pleasure to see Anne Tolley take the stand in Winston’s court case and admit she had passed on personal client information to her family. Imagine, a senior member of the National government squirming in her seat as she tried to defend her big mouth, unable to rally her cabal to protect her position, and finally blurting out “I wished I’d never seen the file” or something to that effect. Not “I am sorry to the client for breaching his privacy” or “Sorry for misconduct and bringing the NZ government into disrepute”, no just a self-preserving ridiculous excuse for lack of professionalism and weaponisation of privileged position (“I was tired, I was cross). She couldn’t care less.
    The MSM commentary hasn’t been any more favourable to this breach of privacy and actions by our public service. On RNZ Politics this morning Mike Williams giggled “Give Anne Tolley a big pat on the back for honesty”, castigated (Winston) “Clearly he’s after Utu”, and dismissed (Winston’s trial) “It’s a sidebar”. Hooton went full gaslighter and suggested it was all Winston’s fault:
    “Everyone has behaved badly here including Mr Peters”, “He was called by some case manager who was looking after his superannuation file and he sounds, according to one version of the story, arrogant and haughty, and I think it probably could have gone away if he just said straight away to the person who phoned him, the junior poor official who had to tell Winston Peters this news, sorry I’ll fix it up. It sounds like his behaviour contributed to it being escalated to a higher level”.
    Williams and Hooton sound as though they have been hanging with criminals for so long that they are starting to sound like them. The whole establishment in fact is starting to stink like high heaven.

  9. Well popeye keep your eye on this as most of those who hung around John Key/Steven Joyce gang are always acting as if criminal intent was their forte.

    “One rotten apple in the barrel makes the whole barrel of apples rotten” comes to mind so with those two Key/Joyce makes the Wellington swamp smell rotten very quickly.

    • Yes, it seems no coincidence that much of all this rot happened under the John Key led govt, esp these above. And while Labours done its fair share of power abusing , they pale into insignificance compared to the John Key crowd. And Bennett , … that Bennett… why has she not been sacked…instead, she is now deputy leader of the same slimy morass known as the National party.

      While the 4th Labour govt could be said to be the most ‘treasonous’ in running roughshod over the wishes of New Zealanders and lying through their teeth when doing so , – the Key led govt and its senior Ministers would easily be the most corrupt in modern history.

      And the MSM has deliberately aided and abetted this process by supporting those corrupt leaders, and helping in the smear campaigns against those singled out. I haven’t posted about Mr Bradbury’s victory but I was happy. I would also like to see Mr Dotcom and friends given full pardons as they were another group wrongfully targeted under that despicable Key led govt. As was Mr Hagar.

      What we are seeing regards Mr Peters taking MP’s from the former National party to court led by Key is an extension of that neo liberal filth ideology both the MSM and the Key led govt operated / operate under. The MSM should have been all over these wrongful uses of power like the proverbial fly’s on sh-t.

      Instead they weren’t, and are still acting in the same way. The fact that the victory by Mr Bradbury barely got a mention demonstrates that. The fact that they tacitly supported increased covert surveillance over 9 years of Keys govt , – unchallenged, – by their silence also demonstrates their culpability. And the only time they ever spoke out was when it affected them directly , which wasn’t that often and afterwards… were soon cowed into silence. Or when it was muck raking against an individual and giving more of an opinion piece rather than reporting the facts.

  10. to see nz law enforcement agencies powers grow and change on the recommendation of the police only serve to show huge concerns where nz is heading.
    when you have armed police squads roaming nz streets and attending low criminal priorities check is a disaster waiting to happen and thats only a 6 month trial ready to roll out across the country.
    police state anybody???
    there have been whistles blowers in the police force complaining about dangerous bullying practices who feared for their life.
    these are the same police force who will be armed on nz streets
    will we be the usa in the south pacific.
    just say and know nothing against them and you are not brown you should be safe
    just saying
    i love the police without guns
    only armed defenders only
    they are professionals and well trained
    and shoot to kill
    keep nz the way we are
    safe from guns

  11. Citizens? How could you overlook the foreign residents with voting rights? Oh, won’t someone think of the colonists!?!

  12. If you look at the lack of confidence in journalism, not just here but in the US too, where Trump was elected in spite of the MSM demonising him at every turn, its clear people are thinking for themselves more than ever. Of course, this does not help when access to important stories is simply not available. Especially when most people have neither the time nor inclination, to seek out the truth. Many simply come home and plug into the MSM after a days hard work and accept what they are told. No fault of their own but a reflection of what has happened to society after 30+ years of neo liberalism.

  13. Thank-you for your erudite post Frank Macskasy.

    This is by no means a new phenomenon. It has been around for decades at the least within the confines of the NZ Public Service. The main difference: with the rapid advancement of technology, the nature of the attacks have changed over the years. In the old days they were more ‘hands on’ but now it is possible to remotely attack an individual without their knowledge as happened to Martyn Bradbury.

    There must be many former Public Servants who have extraordinary stories to tell, but they have never been heard. This is because there were state sanctioned cover-ups at the time and back then there were few avenues for the average person to pursue justice. The police were reluctant to to take on such cases even when criminal behaviour was evident.

    My crime back in the 1970s and 80s? I joined the Labour Party. What is more I was an activist within the party. This (apparently) firmly cast me in the role of suspected subversive. My situation was exacerbated by a few malevolent individuals (one in particular) spreading false stories. The fallout from that era continued long after I left the Service.

    If an enterprising journalist devoted time and energy to researching these historical cases, they would find a rich source of material revealing the nasty underbelly of The Establishment – in all its manifestations – and how they destroyed the lives and careers of individuals for no justifiable reason. It was particularly notable during the years of the Muldoon government.

    I, also finish up with a quote:
    “The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”.

    And that, based on my own case, was/is the nub of the problem – incompetency, stupidity and paranoia in both the public and private sectors.

  14. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. All comments have been read and considered (as always), for adding to the discourse and in case issues have been raised that I may’ve missed.

    Again, thanks everyone!

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