journalist Nicky Hager’s fight for journalistic freedom has finally
come to an end.
author, whose books have long been a thorn in the side of the state,
has been embroiled in legal action after police raided his home in
which linked former Prime Minister John Key’s office with
right-wing bloggers such as Cameron ‘Whaleoil’ Slater, was a
pre-election bombshell and led to the resignation of then-minister
the book was released, Slater complained to police that he had been
hacked by Hager’s source - a person referred to only as Rawshark.
led to police raiding Hager’s home in October 2014 to try and find
the mysterious hacker’s identity.
that search, which took place while Hager was in Auckland, was deeply
a statement released today, police admitted they failed to mention
Hager was a journalist and they were seeking to identify his sources
when applying for a search warrant.
also apologised for mining his banking data with only an informal
information request and obtaining his information from third parties
including Air New Zealand, Paypal, Customs, and Jetstar without
telling the companies Hager was a journalist who could claim
a stunning admission, police also apologised for telling some
companies they suspected Hager of fraud when seeking the information,
despite having no basis to do so.
acknowledge that Mr Hager had a reasonable expectation of privacy in
relation to information that could be used to identify his
confidential sources,” the statement read.
also acknowledge that there are legal protections in relation to such
information that can only be waived by a High Court judge. As such,
it was not appropriate for the police to seek such information from
third parties without a suitable court order.”
raids on media organisations are rare, but searches of their
individual homes are almost unheard of.
detectives knocked on the door of his Wellington Hager’s daughter
was the only one home.
speaking to Hager on the phone, who soon claimed journalistic source
protection privilege and received a promise it would be respected,
police searched the home for ten hours and seized a raft of items
including Hager’s daughter’s laptop and phone.
later learned that police had broken that promise and photographed
documents including login information for web and cloud storage
accounts, which were later used to try and gain access.
phone records were also taken and used to get records from phone
apology follows a High Court ruling late last year that the warrant
used for the raid was “fundamentally unlawful”.
part of the apology Hager will receive damages and legal costs, the
size of which will remain confidential but, as the journalist stated,
will “help support important work in years to come”.
real value of Hager’s victory though is for freedom of speech.
journalist’s right to protect their sources is central to their
role in holding power to account; without it democracy is weakened.
has been a long fight, but we stuck at it because we believe what we
were fighting for was important,” Hager said.
sends a vital message that people can share important information
with journalists with confidence that their identities will be
protected. The police have apologised for threatening that
confidentiality and trust.”
leader Simon Bridges had not seen the details of Hager’s statement,
but said police had to make amends if they had used the law
if the police stuffed up and they got the law wrong, then the apology
is the right thing to do. In terms of compensation where that goes,
again, I haven’t seen the detail but there’s a pretty well-worn
legal track for that in case law, and I think that’s where the
answer should lie.”
said it was incorrect to suggest ministers in the previous National
government had placed any pressure on police to investigate the leak
to Hager. Decisions in the field were “for police, not for
we know in New Zealand is police act on any matter like this with
operational independence, so it’s them, not ministers...that should
cop the appropriate blame.