Hager warrant ruled unlawful

The Herald reports:

The police search on the home of investigative journalist has been found unlawful by the High Court.

In a judgment released today, Justice Denis Clifford ruled against the way police went about obtaining the search warrant used to search Hager’s home in the hunt for identity of the hacker Rawshark who supplied information for the Dirty Politics book.

Justice Clifford said there was “no explicit reference” in the warrant application put before a district court judge to “Hager’s status as a journalist”, to legal principles around search warrants executed on journalist, to the legal rights journalists had under the Evidence Act or to the way those rights were explained in the Search and Surveillance Act.

He said Parliament would not have intended for a judge to be kept blind to the possibility of journalistic privilege in an application for a search warrant. He said Parliament would also not have intended for a judge to not be informed about the principles which arose as a result.

Justice Clifford said it was important not only for the judge to be aware but for judges, when deciding to grant warrants, to be satisfied police were also aware of the issues and had appropriate steps in place to deal with information on which privilege was claimed.

The result, said Justice Clifford, was “a material failure to discharge the duty of candour” by police.

Basically the Police should have been more fulsome with the Judge. If they had, they may still have got a warrant, but by not disclosing the relevant info, they warrant has been found to be illegal.

A pity that the criminal who did the hacking may never be identified and charged.

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