I started reading more fully the Nicky Hager book yesterday, and the footnotes in the book. To my shock I realised that Hager had info in the book that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office.
Specifically he refers to copies of two scripts used by my company, Curia Research, this year. There is absolutely no way they could have come from Cameron Slater’s computer systems, as Cameron doesn’t have them. No one has them but me and my office.
I thought about how this could have happened. The two most likely scenarios are that my computer systems have also been hacked, or that someone physically removed the scripts from my office (or possibly apartment). All of these scenarios make me feel sick, and make me worry about the security of the 100+ staff working for me.
Some of the material is very recent – from June 2014 – just two months ago. I think the most likely thing is that someone joined the staff (we recruit often) with the purpose of acquiring material from my office. There’s no evidence of a break in, and I tend to keep my computer systems fairly secure.
I am sure the official explanation will be that the scripts just turned up in an envelope somewhere, and they have no idea how they got there. I think that is bullshit. Most of my staff are young students, who I can’t imagine would suddenly decide to send a copy of my scripts to Nicky Hager in the post.
I consider this outrageous, just as I hope people would if someone from the right infiltrated the offices of the Labour Party pollsters, to steal their material.
There is no public interest defence to the stealing of the material belonging to my clients. There was nothing sinister or inappropriate in it. In fact one of the scripts detailed in the book is of some questions we did for Family First, who published the results on their website, including the full questions. But I know Hager has a copy of the script as he has quoted the question numbers, which are not included in the published results.
I do not accept that because I am a blogger, and my company has National as a client, it makes it all right for me to be hacked or spied on, and material stolen from me.
This is the second Hager book that has e-mails from or to me. In 2008 (off memory) a left wing activist gained entry to a social function I was at, and covertly tape recorded conversations. My office has been infiltrated. To be honest, I’m pretty disgusted at the moment as I consider the pattern over several years.
I don’t hold the left generally responsible. I have many many friends involved in politics on the left. I’ve appreciated their support in recent days. They are good people. I think most Labour and Green MPs are good people. But there is an extreme segment of the left who do think that it is okay to hack, steal, record and spy on others, because we are of the right.
My gut reaction last night was to give up politics, if it means that I am going to have to worry about spies infiltrating my company, my communications being hacked, people recording private conversations with me. I regard my family, friends and loved ones as far more important to me, than my involvement in politics. But I’m not going to do that in haste.
Instead with huge regret I’m going to have to stop being so trusting. I’m going to have to pay what will be possibly a fair bit of money to check my apartment, my office and my computer systems for anything that shouldn’t be there. While my assumption is that the scripts came from someone who had physical access to my office, I can’t be sure. If people regard hacking and stealing as fair game, I don’t have the confidence they’ll stop at that.
I could introduce systems in my office where staff get personalised copies of scripts, that must be handed in,and have security cameras to record people. But I’m not going to do that. I value my staff too much to insult them. All but one of them will be as offended as I am, by the fact someone has betrayed their trust by stealing material (if my assumption is correct).
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the cleaners stole it. Should I check out my cleaners also? I hate the fact I’m even having to think about this. I’m sure again that there will be some official version offered in which no one did anything wrong to acquire those scripts, but pardon me, if I have some disbelief.