Legal authorities must respect the right of journalist Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material for his Dirty Politics book under Section 68 of the Evidence Act, Acting Labour Leader David Parker says.
“It is crucial in an open democracy that journalists are not forced to reveal their sources so whistle-blowers feel able to come forward with information.
“While we respect the Police’s independence, we are concerned that an arm of the state appears to be being used against Mr Hager while nothing appears to be being done about the wrongdoing he exposed.
“A 10-hour search of their family home would be harrowing for anyone. Nicky Hager was doing what the fourth estate ought to do and Police need to take care to protect his rights, and to avoid the appearance of intimidating the media.
“At the time of the 2011 election media offices including TV3, TVNZ, the Herald on Sunday and Radio New Zealand were raided over the so-called tea-pot tapes. That resulted in a legally questionable ‘deemed guilty’ verdict by the Prime Minister in concert with the Police despite their being no actual prosecution and arguable defences. Other recent undermining of media freedom included the Serious Fraud Office demanding the NBR hand over documents about South Canterbury Finance.
“Nicky Hager’s book revealed serious wrongdoings including inappropriate conduct towards Government regulators the SFO and the Financial Markets Authority. It also showed misuse of power in the Prime Minister’s own office including the orchestrated use of SFO information for political purposes, and accessing of the Labour Party database. The allegations concerning Minister Judith Collins led to her resignation.
“As far as the public is currently aware, the wrongdoing exposed in Nicky Hager’s book is not being investigated with the same vigour as blogger Cameron Slater’s complaint about his emails being hacked.
“It is important that journalists’ rights are respected and that the Police are seen to be acting in a balanced way in respect of these politically charged issues,” David Parker says.