Police reopen Brash e-mails investigation

July 23rd, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged on the 8th of July some basic steps that I believed the should have done in investigating the stolen Brash e-mails:

  1. Compile a masterlist of every document referenced in Hager’s book
  2. Sort them into groups – e-mails, faxes, etc
  3. For the e-mails record down when each e-mail was received, and when it was deleted if it was. This will provide a window of time as to when the theft occured.
  4. Also for each e-mail record who has access to it. Who was cc’d or bcc’d it. Who had access to a printed copy.
  5. Look for common patterns in access, to try and narrow down which e-mail account or accounts were probably accessed
  6. Look at the date of the final document used in the book. It is likely the theft took place soon after that.
  7. Obtain staff lists for National during that period. Look especially at anyone who joined just before the thefts occurred.
  8. Obtain swipe card records for the Leader’s Office for the period just after the final documents cited.

As far as I know, the original inquiry did none of this. has a complaint with the over the inadequacy of the investigation.

Tracy Watkins from the Dom Post reports that the Police appear to have reopened their investigation, which is an implicit acknowledgement of the failings of the original investigation:

Police have been interviewing parliamentary cleaners and security guards after reopening their investigation into the Don Brash email files.

A team of up to four police officers has been involved in the investigation which is understood to have been reopened several weeks ago after Police Commissioner Howard Broad put one of his top officers, assistant commissioner Steve Shortland, in charge of reviewing the Brash file.

MPs and parliamentary staffers are expected to be interviewed as well. It is understood the Independent Police Conduct Authority is also investigating after a complaint from Dr Brash.

I’m not sure whether the investigation will reach any conclusions, as the theft happened around four years ago, but it is pleasing to see they are at least trying.

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57 Responses to “Police reopen Brash e-mails investigation”

  1. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “it is pleasing to see they are at least trying.’

    Far far too late.

    The ineffectual lamer Broad, Helen’s buddy, has to go.

    It is unhealthy for democracy for someone as politically partisan as Broad to be head of the Police.

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  2. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    whos been fired at police hq?

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  3. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    be careful what you wish for there..dpf..

    ..keep in mind those ..who for reasons of ambition..or revenge..

    ..who stood to gain the most from toppling brash..

    ..eh..?

    (gee..!..what if it wasn’t a ‘leftie-plot’..?

    ..but a rightie-plot..

    ..with current ‘players’..

    ..into it up to their well-tailored knecks..?

    ..(we await revelations..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  4. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    phil splls the labour spin line – those with most to gain were labour, brash as unsophisticated as he was did almost topple labour. those with the most to lose were hulun’s mob allusion to robs mob intentional.

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  5. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    > Police have been interviewing parliamentary cleaners and security guards

    I’m not sure how much info police will get from cleaners and security guards. Police might be better off speaking with Nicky Hager, who does have a good handle on how the emails fell into his lap. Maybe police could execute a seearch warrant of Hager’s computer and house and do the same in regards to Hager’s publisher. That would indicate that police are taking this matter seriously, even if the book’s writer isn’t.

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  6. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Hager is not a journalist.

    He is a political activist posing as a journalist.

    Ross is correct.

    Hager should be the center of the Police investigation.

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  7. petal (705 comments) says:

    “Broad has to go”

    Seconded.

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  8. Brian Smaller (4,013 comments) says:

    So now Broad is doing something. Surely this is a joke. Tell the guy to resign or if he cannot be forced out without a golden parachute then reassign him to foot patrol in Otara or Palmy – who cares if he is the highest paid beat officer in NZ, I bet his contract has a clause somewhere that says “other duties as required”.

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  9. wreck1080 (3,883 comments) says:

    I’d love to know if Helen Clark / cronies were behind the dilution of the original police investigation into the brash emails.

    Helen has shown in the past a willingness to obscure investigations. Just look at Helens Philip Field inquiry. The results of that investigation cleared him.

    I wonder if it is too many years since the original crime now. Peoples memories have faded etc… or, maybe like TV’s cold case, people are more willing to talk after time has passed??

    And, replace broad with that guy who used to do crime watch. He was cool.

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  10. Doug (410 comments) says:

    Now that the main player is out of the country an investigation starts funny that.

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  11. Alan Wilkinson (1,871 comments) says:

    “it is pleasing to see they are at least trying.’

    Actually it is disgusting. It shows the police are merely political weather-vanes, shoe-licking servants of whatever Government is in power.

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  12. Chris2 (762 comments) says:

    As someone with some minor IT experience, I have always considered the most likely suspect was not someone within the Parliamentary National Party office, but more possibly a Parliamentary Service’s IT employee.

    These network administrators can look at everything on a computer network, without leaving any trace. They really do have the keys to the kingdom, being able to peer unseen, inside every bodies computer accounts.

    It would have been a very simple procedure indeed for one of these IT staff, sitting at their own desk, to remotely download the entire contents of Brash’s E-mail account onto a USB drive and give it to Hager.

    Did the original Police investigation look at Parliament’s IT staff as suspects?

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  13. PaulL (5,965 comments) says:

    I’m with Alan. I’m no more happy that they’ve reopened the investigation now that National is in power, than I were that they did a half arsed job when Labour were in power.

    I want a police force that applies the law without fear or favour. We don’t seem to have that, and someone needs to be answerable.

    The right answer here was to acknowledge that the original investigation was very sub-par, and identify who was accountable for that.
    – If it were the police implicitly acting on what they thought the government wanted, then the police leadership should go for not being politically impartial

    – If it was explicit instruction from the government, then someone should be charged for unlawfully interfering in police business, plus the police leadership should go for not being politically impartial, and for not raising merry hell when the law was broken and this instruction was given.

    – If it was just incompetent investigation, and this is how they handle all their work, then the whole police force needs a shakeup, and the police leadership should go for allowing a culture of incompetence to grow

    Interestingly, all my options involve the police leadership going. Is there an explanation here that wouldn’t involve Broad being sacked?

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  14. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    maybe asking key/english to take a polygraph….could be a shortcut..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  15. Tom Barker (137 comments) says:

    “Hager is not a journalist.

    He is a political activist posing as a journalist.”

    Master ‘Baiter, is your opinion on that subject worth more than that of Martin Hirst, Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT, who describes Hager as “NZ’s leading investigative journalist”?

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  16. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    As someone with some minor IT experience, I have always considered the most likely suspect was not someone within the Parliamentary National Party office, but more possibly a Parliamentary Service’s IT employee.

    These network administrators can look at everything on a computer network, without leaving any trace. They really do have the keys to the kingdom, being able to peer unseen, inside every bodies computer accounts.

    It would have been a very simple procedure indeed for one of these IT staff, sitting at their own desk, to remotely download the entire contents of Brash’s E-mail account onto a USB drive and give it to Hager.

    Did the original Police investigation look at Parliament’s IT staff as suspects?

    As someone with quite a bit of IT experience concerning the Parliamentary system, I can tell you almost all of this is wrong. The admins don’t have remote access to all of the networks in parliament, there are numerous, and they are separate, for obvious reasons.

    They really don’t have the keys to the system. They can get them, but not wothout leaving a trace.

    Chances are any activity would leave a trace – logins, file accesses etc. ANd anyway, this wouldn’t explain how emails from the National party system were obtained. Far more likely to be incompetence, or an inside job.

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  17. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    DPF said: …as the theft happened around four years ago…

    What determination is there that there actually was a “theft” David? That has not been established. “Alleged theft” perhaps.

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  18. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    “Hager should be the center of the Police investigation”

    Yeah we should totally make journalists who investigate MPs live in fear, thats exactly what is needed in a healthy democracy.

    Brash got caught lying, deal with it.

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  19. Inventory2 (10,298 comments) says:

    Bollocks Jeff83 – I believe that there is a prima facie case against Hager under S228 (b) of the Crimes Act, which is punishable by a maximum of 7 years imprisonment – a reasonably serious offence:

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    228 Dishonestly taking or using document

    *Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,—
    (a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
    (b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

    Compare: 1961 No 43 s 229A

    Section 228: substituted, on 1 October 2003, by section 15 of the Crimes Amendment Act 2003 (2003 No 39).

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Hager had no claim of right to the Brash e-mails. They were not his property. He gained a pecuniary advantage in that he wrote a “best-selling” book, which could not have been written without him being in possession of the e-mails to which he had no claim of right.

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  20. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Inventory2: I would tend to go with Receiving (s246) rather than Using a Document. I am not sure that 228 would fit the use of the emails in a book. The problem with 246 is that the penalty would only be 3 months max unless you could show the emails were worth more than $500!

    Your suggestion would make for an interesting test, however.

    Edit: Toad, pretty easily, really. They could have been stolen by person or persons unknown, and then the mere fact that Hager was in possession of them where he knew the Nats wouldn’t want him to have them becomes a prima facie case. Certainly enough for Hager to be charged, in my opinion.

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  21. Chris2 (762 comments) says:

    llew @ 10:22am – it is understandable you would want to defend the Parliamentary IT staff but it is naive to dismiss the possibility that this is how the E-mails were stolen – your systems will not be as safe as you like to imagine.

    If the Otago Hospital Board’s IT Manager was able to steal $17 million without anyone noticing, including his fellow IT colleagues, then it would be no problem for an IT employee at Parliament to swipe Brash’s E-mails, without being discovered.

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  22. Inventory2 (10,298 comments) says:

    FE Smith – I’m happy to bow to your superior knowledge of these things, as I am a mere bush-lawyer! However, I would still argue that S228(b) would be worth a try – my rationale is that The Hollow Men could not have been written without the exhaustive documents which Hager came into possession of; secondly, he received a fee for writing the book, and presumably continues to receive royalties, therefore he gained a pecuniary advantage by using the documents; thirdly, he had no claim of right to the documents, which were private to Dr Brash.

    Do I have a legal future, or should I leave that to my daughter, who did very well in her first semester at Canterbury :-)

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  23. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Master ‘Baiter, is your opinion on that subject worth more than that of Martin Hirst, Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT, who describes Hager as “NZ’s leading investigative journalist”?”

    You’re joking right??

    Do you have any inkling of Martin Hirst’s political affiliations??

    Check this link and get back-

    http://newzeal.blogspot.com/2007/08/sap-17-dr-martin-hirst.html

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  24. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Brash got caught lying, deal with it.”

    A cowardly and utterly false allegation. So typical of the amoral left, whose whole damn ideology is a lie.

    Every election, they lie constantly about there ultimate objectives and try to make themselves appear mainstream.

    For leftists to allege that Don Brash, a good and honest man, is a liar is cowardice as well as the most outrageous hypocrisy.

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  25. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    Inventory2 without even going in the technicalities of that offence (was there dishonesty, was there no claim of right, and what was his intention – one could strongly argue it wasnt to obtain valuable consideration) you realise there is a common law defence that it was in the public interest, which there is a strong argument for, when a potential leader of a country says one thing but is planning something completely different, especially when some of those emails inferred he was potentially breaching election rules.

    Pretty sure if Investigate did the same regarding the Labour party and their breaching of the EFB you would all be singing a different tune.

    And I repeat my statement, that making journalists who investigate MPs live in fear is ‘healthy’ for a democratic society. Yes for the slower readers that is dressed in many layers of sarcasm.

    You know the best part, the reason you care is those emails showed Brash’s true agenda which made enough swing voters sick enough in the stomach not to vote National, was a glorious day for healthy democracy.

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  26. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    “A cowardly and utterly false allegation. So typical of the amoral left, whose whole damn ideology is a lie.

    Every election, they lie constantly about there ultimate objectives and try to make themselves appear mainstream.

    For leftists to allege that Don Brash, a good and honest man, is a liar is cowardice as well as the most outrageous hypocrisy.”

    Continue to live in dream land Red. I am not saying Brash didnt believe in what he intended to do was for the good of the country, but he lied about what that intention was. If he had come out and said his true intentions, if he had divulged what he actually knew regarding certain meetings etc, then I would of respected him and voted for him. He didnt. He lied until he was caught.

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  27. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    I2: Indeed, join your daughter! I have always enjoyed your legal analysis, which is usually pretty good for a layman.

    Glad your daughter has done well at uni this semester. First one is always a bit of a learning experience but it is great fun. And Laws 101 has Richard Scragg, so even better! As one who has graduated Cantuar myself, I am sure that she will love it down there.

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  28. Ross Miller (1,700 comments) says:

    Be very clear.

    If it was a National Party staffer or MP then that person should be exposed, shamed and prosecuted.

    If it were a Labour Party operation then that Party should be exposed, shamed and prosecuted.

    As for the Police and their initial investigation …. now that could make a VERY good Hagar expose.

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  29. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “If it was a National Party staffer or MP then that person should be exposed, shamed and prosecuted.”

    If I was to bet money on it, I would say it was. In fact, I have strong suspicions in that regard. There could have been a few involved , but if there was ever one person in particular who was behind it, its not hard to work out who that person might have been. (and it is not an MP)

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  30. Cerium (23,476 comments) says:

    “Do you have any inkling of Martin Hirst’s political affiliations??”

    Why should political affiliations exclude the possibility of some sort of informed opinion? I sometimes agree with you,are you suggesting I simply shouldn’t accept anything you say?

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  31. TCrwdb (242 comments) says:

    “Master ‘Baiter, is your opinion on that subject worth more than that of Martin Hirst, Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT, who describes Hager as “NZ’s leading investigative journalist”?

    You were being sarcastic, no?

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  32. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    I agree in a healthy democracy journalists should not be prosecuted. But…

    1) Hager is not so much a journalist as a political activist, and,

    2) So called mainstream journalists too have en masse deserted their obligations to protect us from the powerful and instead advocate for socialist totalitarianism, the ideology they believe in. They have (knowingly or unknowingly) deserted the trade of journalism to advocate for their political ideology. Therefore they forfeit the protection afforded real journalists in the past, journalists who actually did their job.

    IMHO, with tutors like Martin Hirst its not hard to see why this situation has arisen.

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  33. Ross Miller (1,700 comments) says:

    For Tom Baker … you fawn over Martin Hirst. Wonder why. Below is an extract from one of his blog comments ….

    “I believe in the overthrow of capitalism through the conscious political organisation of the working class. With armed force if necessary.”

    nuff said.

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  34. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    Hager is not a journalist.

    He is a political activist posing as a journalist.

    Ross is correct.

    Hager should be the center of the Police investigation.

    Absolutely agreed. Can you imagine the shitstorm if DPF had received all Helen’s emails and written a book / blog about them? Christ almighty, the left would’ve protested and threatened and god knows what else, the police would have been all over it like flies on shit and the media would have been banging down his door.

    What does Hager get? “Oh, well done Nicky, here, have a cheque.”

    If it was a National Party staffer or MP then that person should be exposed, shamed and prosecuted.

    If it were a Labour Party operation then that Party should be exposed, shamed and prosecuted.

    Absolutely. I think I speak for the entire VRWC when I say that if anyone from National is caught up in this mess, then they need their bollocks nailed to the desk.

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  35. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    llew @ 10:22am – it is understandable you would want to defend the Parliamentary IT staff but it is naive to dismiss the possibility that this is how the E-mails were stolen – your systems will not be as safe as you like to imagine.

    Like you, I’m saying wqhat I see as more likely. ANd I will persist in my belief that while they may not be quite as safe as I imagine, they’re a darn sight safer than you do.

    If the Otago Hospital Board’s IT Manager was able to steal $17 million without anyone noticing, including his fellow IT colleagues, then it would be no problem for an IT employee at Parliament to swipe Brash’s E-mails, without being discovered.

    I would be truly surprised and disappointed if Parliament’s security wasn’t a lot tighter than the Otago HB. And your theory doesn’t explain how Hager got emails that went nowhere near the parliamentary network.

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  36. Alan Wilkinson (1,871 comments) says:

    TCrwdb: ““Master ‘Baiter, is your opinion on that subject worth more than that of Martin Hirst, Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT, who describes Hager as “NZ’s leading investigative journalist”?”

    Given Ross Miller’s quote I would say almost anyone’s opinion on that subject is worth more than that of Martin Hirst.

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  37. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    it was all handed to hagar..

    ..it was an inside job..

    ..a natty did it..

    ..either in support of key taking the leadership..

    ..or revenge for english..

    ..for the way brash screwed/overthrew him..

    ..or both..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  38. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    English could save us all a lot of trouble.

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  39. Jack5 (5,052 comments) says:

    Redbaitrer at 11.13 is spot on about Martin Hirst, New Zealand’s best-known Trotskyist. Tom Barker’s citing in his 10.21 post of Hirst as a journalistic authority is a further indication that the far left campaigns for and with Hager.

    Given the MSM’s l lionisation of Hager, who is clearly a left wing propagandist, you have to rank him as NZ’s most successful agitprop practitioner.

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  40. PaulL (5,965 comments) says:

    Phil, you do know the difference between opinion and fact, don’t you? And which one what you just said falls into.

    My opinion is that someone within the Nat office leaked the material, it isn’t particularly likely that anybody else had access of the right sort to get that particular set of information. Whether that somebody was someone with pretty limited access (a cleaner or the like), or someone in an administrative type role (EA or the like), or someone with authority and power (an MP or similar), I don’t know for sure. I personally suspect one of the support staff – EA or similar – with an axe to grind. I’m pretty sure someone told me that Brash was in the habit of having all his e-mails printed out – not someone who likes computers apparently (strange though that may seem to those of us on the internet). So it is plausible that anyone with physical access to his office could have leaked this information.

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  41. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    yes..paul..

    but if you key in ‘motive’..

    ..up pop john ‘n bill..

    ..eh..?

    ..and given the complexity of the material handed to hagar..

    ..and the different sources..(some non-parliamentary’)..

    ..that cleaner you cite must have had some ‘connections’..eh..?

    y’know..i also heard ‘it wuz da cleaner!”..who shot kennedy..

    ..eh..?

    ..maybe it’s the same’ cleaner’..?

    eh.?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  42. Manolo (13,579 comments) says:

    “y’know..i also heard ‘it wuz da cleaner!”..who shot kennedy.”

    What have Kiwiblog readers done to have to put with such extreme example of imbecility?

    Whoar, parasitic bludger, you and your whore-linking are not welcome here. Get lost.

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  43. sbk (312 comments) says:

    “y’know..i also heard ‘it wuz da cleaner!”..who shot kennedy..”…from a grassy knoll/troll..

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  44. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    PaulL: so it becomes theft by a person in a special relationship. In which case Hager is still left facing an accusation of receiving.

    Hager only gets off suspicion if the person who gave him the emails actually had lawful possession of them. Then it truly is a leak.

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  45. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    that’s quite dry/witty..there..sbk..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  46. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    so .paul..

    i take it you consider it impossible that either key or english did it/knew about it/approved it..’nudge nudge..wink wink..!’/w.h.y….?

    tell me..

    who had greater motives than those two..?

    ..who stood to gain more then those two..?

    ..but looking through your (blue-coloured?) glasses..

    ..neither can/should be considered to be ‘in the frame’..?

    ..eh..?

    (there’s a question worth ‘begging’ over..?..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  47. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    “I agree in a healthy democracy journalists should not be prosecuted. But…

    1) Hager is not so much a journalist as a political activist, and,”

    I would be disingenerous to say Hager does not have an agenda, but I think you run a very risky road if you decide who and who is not a genuine journalist, and I am not sure that risk should be run.

    I agree in general though journalists hasnt exactly been doing their duty and are well and truely to easily misled with well draft media releases, easy stories as it were. I wouldnt say it has an underlying socialist tone (but we both disagree on end objectives, or at least method, and thats just that) but I would say it helps keep a status quo by not digging deaper and risking it by really challenging stuff.

    But that is precisisely why I defend Hager, he is one who has challenged the norm, and not just accepted media releases. Did he have an agenda, yes, though I wouldnt call it a pro Labour agenda either (think Corngate), but he has done so to be crucified by the main media, who have focused on the relatively inconsisquental issue of how the emails were leaked.

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  48. KiwiGreg (3,246 comments) says:

    In a healthy democracy anyone of any occupation would be prosecuted if they broke the law. Journalists, particularly in New Zealand, dont deserve any special “law breaking” priviledges.

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  49. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    is there a law against killing our economy..?

    could someone indict brash..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  50. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Lean back a moment people and ask yourselves this, who stood to gain with the leaking of the Brash emails the most ?
    Damned if I can see how Labour stood to gain the most.

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  51. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    I think it was phool, in the drawing room, with the candlestick.

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  52. PaulL (5,965 comments) says:

    grumpyoldhori – winning the election wasn’t important to Labour?

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  53. Steve (4,546 comments) says:

    Where are all of the Government computers from the last 10 years? or more important, where are the Drives?
    It is amazingly easy to retrieve an email that has been deleted, even if the drive is formated.
    The Data is just unseen, not gone.
    Container lost at sea in Cook Straight, oh yeah that’s where

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  54. James (1,338 comments) says:

    “I think it was phool, in the drawing room, with the candlestick.”

    “While phools girlfriend,lying alone in bed (yet again),reaches for the vibrator in the nightstand (yet again)

    ;-)

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  55. NX (504 comments) says:

    In the USA when Palin’s Yahoo email account was hacked, the FBI raided and seized the computer of a senator’s son with out delay.

    In NZ the when the Leader of the Opposition has his parliamentary emails stolen before an important election the police re-open the case after three years because the first investigation was a farce.

    You can’t help but be cynical. How do police expect us to treat infringement notices seriously if they don’t take this case seriously?

    Phil_u, I want this case solved not only for Dr Brash, but also for the current leader of the Opposition Phil Goff. And fior New Zealand democracy. Why can’t you see that?

    And if it is someone in the National Party, I want them punished appropriately.

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