GCSB extends review, expands

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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The spy agency at the centre of illegal spying on Kim Dotcom has extended its internal review and is beefing up its legal team.

Cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge was drafted into the Government Communications Security Bureau in October to conduct a three-month inquiry. She will now stay until March.

The agency also confirmed it was "increasing the capacity" of its legal department.

The Dominion Post has also learned that Parliament's super-secret intelligence and security committee met this week. But senior politicians - including Labour leader David Shearer, ACT leader John Banks, Greens co-leader Russel Norman and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne - were muzzled from asked detailed questions about the Dotcom saga because of concerns about sub judice.

Director Ian Fletcher appeared before the committee for the agency's financial review. SIS director Warren Tucker also appeared.

It is understood low staff morale was discussed at the committee, and the agency has begun an in-house blog.

The agency illegally snooped on Dotcom, who is a New Zealand resident, after misinterpreting immigration laws. Its legal department reviewed the case in February, but concluded the spying was legitimate. The illegality came to light in September and Prime Minister John Key ordered a review.

Ms Kitteridge was installed to complete a "capability, governance and performance review'.

A High Court judge ruled last week that Dotcom can now pursue the GCSB for damages.

But MPs at the committee were prevented from quizzing officials about the potential cost. Other than apologising "profusely" for the bungle, Mr Fletcher did not go into much detail.

A spokesman for Mr Key said: "The content of the discussions will not be disclosed."

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