The Heather du Plessis-Allan Police investigation

Stuff reports:

A search of journalist ’s home has been criticised by MPs as a waste of resources and an example of the force’s “tunnel-visioned approach”.

MPs generally should keep out of Police operational issues.

Du-Plessis Allan’s husband, broadcaster Barry Soper, says the police investigation over her gun story is like “taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. 

Soper said he was warned by police on Monday afternoon they had a search warrant for the couple’s Wellington apartment.

Three officers turned up at 8am on Tuesday, and searched the dining room and two bedrooms, rifling through bedside cabinets and a large chest of drawers, including a receipt drawer.

Du Plessis-Allan was in Auckland, where she is based during the week for work, but police had not searched that property.

Police flew down from Auckland to search the Wellington property.

Soper said: “It would seem an overreaction to what was obviously a real problem and nobody can tell us at the moment how many guns are out there in New Zealand without a licence. This [story] was all about gun control and not allowing guns to be in the hands of the wrong people.”

What he found most extraordinary was police had since closed the loophole under which du Plessis-Allan had bought the gun online.

“I did make the point to the cops at one stage who were in the apartment that surely they could be the authors of their own misfortune in all of this because do they want more guns in circulation? And the detective senior sergeant turned to me and said ‘no comment’.”

It was worrying that his wife could be charged “but the fact is that the story was done in the full knowledge that there could have been repercussions I believe”.

MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon said: “The police are doing their job in the course of their investigations and that is perfectly normal.”

He said Mediaworks, which owns TV3, stood by the Story team “and their focus on the flaw in the mail order gun system that allowed people to buy guns without valid firearms licences”.

“It was an important piece of journalism and it has resulted in immediate changes to the rules around the mail order system which have now addressed that serious flaw.

“The public interest has clearly been served by the spotlight the Story team have put on this issue.”

My thoughts are this:

  1. The story was in the public interest. It showed a significant loophole in how the law was being enforced. You should not be able to get a gun delivered to you in the mail by putting down some fake details.
  2. There is no doubt Heather DPA broke the law in pursuing the story. She knew this.
  3. I don’t see why the Police need to execute search warrants, let alone fly three Police officers down to Wellington. HDPA admitted on air what she did. She showed the forms. They don’t need a sample of her handwriting – she stated on air she signed the form!!
  4. The only thing the Police need to do is decide whether it is in the public interest to prosecute HDPA. I don’t think it is as her story was in the public interest, and probably could not have been done without filling in false details on a form. There was no personal gain for her and no threat to safety.

UPDATE: A former Judge has agreed with me that there was no need for the search warrant – they could have just asked for a handwriting sample

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