December 26 2014, updated 11:09am

TV3 could be investigated over interview

Last updated 08:32 22/02/2008

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Police say no decision has yet been made on whether they will investigate TV3's involvement with a man who claims to be one of the thieves who stole precious war medals from Waiouru's Army Museum.


Should the thieves of the historic war medals get public attention like this? Email Stuff your views at editorial@stuff.co.nz


 

The man, calling himself Robert, apologised to the nation on Campbell Live last night for taking the medals and said he regretted his actions.

The 96 medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, were nabbed last December from the museum and were returned last Friday after a deal brokered by Auckland lawyer Chris Comeskey.

Head of the police inquiry team Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann was today referring all queries about the televised confession to national headquarters.

Police spokesman Jon Neilson told NZPA they were still to decide what action to take in regards to TV3's involvement with the man.

He said he did not know when a decision would be made.

A media law expert said today she doubted police could compel TV3 to reveal the man's identity.

The man calling himself "Robert" – with his identity disguised and using an actor's voice – said he regretted his actions.

"I just want to say sorry to everyone in New Zealand, I think we all regret what happened and I'm just happy we got them back in pristine condition so everyone's happy I hope," he said.

"We made a big mistake and we regret it and we're just glad that everybody's got them back."

The man said the thieves knew the value of the medals but did not expect the public outcry that followed the heist.

"We knew there would be a certain reaction but we didn't expect the reaction to be so huge."

Associate law professor Ursula Cheer from Canterbury University said today it was "pretty risky" of TV3 to broadcast the man's comments.

"You damage your own credibility as a broadcaster," she told Radio New Zealand.

"It's pretty abhorrent this sort of thing and you can imagine if you had murderers confessing on air – even if they're not paid – I think there's be general abhorrence to that sort of thing."

She said it was possible for police to issue a search warrant.

"There are cases around the Springbok Tour a few years ago where police were able to obtain a search warrant to go into media premises to lift videos that showed the protest marches that might have shown offences being committed.

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"So it is possible but there is case law that says you have to be very careful about how that's done."

Ms Cheer said any warrant must not interfere with general news activities and would have to take into account the Bill of Rights.

She added that a warrant could be broad and cover not just videos, but connected materials such as file notes or emails.

If TV3 wiped any evidence of the interview they could be charged with a summary offence of intentionally obstructing the police, she said.

"However, you of course have a legal right not to be compelled to speak with police, so there'd be an overlap there and it would be a bit risky."

The Campbell Live programme said it offered the man no payment or expenses.

It said he would not discuss the reward money but that he had, or would, receive a part of it.

United Future leader Peter Dunne today called on TV3 to dob in the medal thief or be raided by the police.

"All New Zealand was outraged when the medals were stolen and they were further disgusted to learn that criminals were being rewarded with cash and freedom from jail in order to secure the return of the medals.

"Now we find that one of our major news outlets is prepared to connive and conspire with these lowlives in order to get a fawning interview, the sole objective of which was to boost the ratings and TV's commercial revenue."

- NZPA

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