Teacup cameraman's police past

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 15:44 15/11/2011
Bradley Ambrose
DECISION: Photographer Bradley Ambrose will know next week if he will be charged in relation to the teapot tapes controversy.

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The cameraman responsible for the teacup tape is a former police constable who was suspended from the force while connections with a militia leader were investigated.

Bradley Ambrose, formerly known as Brad White, was investigated by police in 2000 for his connection with Kelvyn Alp, an ex-soldier who was reportedly trying to recruit a private army to oppose the government. Ambrose returned to police work after the investigation but subsequently left the force.

Now a freelance cameraman and storm chaser, Ambrose is again the subject of a police investigation; Prime Minister John Key complained after Ambrose recorded a conversation he had with Act candidate John Banks during a symbolic pre-election cup of tea in Newmarket last week. Ambrose has said he didn't intentionally record the conversation and had simply left his mic in a pouch on the table.

The police suspension occurred in 2000 after items that allegedly belonged to White were found during a raid of Alp's Mangere home. Alp was reportedly trying to recruit a private army to oppose the government at the time.

Alp - who said he'd met White at a friend's wedding - claimed to have 100 members of his New Zealand Armed Intervention Force (NZAIF), armed and prepared to carry out "illegal" missions. Alp said White was not connected to the NZAIF.

Today, Alp confirmed that Bradley White had later changed his surname to Ambrose. He said Ambrose didn't want anything to do with his anti-government group after the 2000 police raid, and described him as a "nice guy".

Asked about the suspension today, Ambrose said: "That sort of thing has nothing to do with the last week".

He refused to comment further.

A police spokesman confirmed that a Bradley White worked for the police as a sworn member from November 1996 to October 2000. The spokesman would not provide details on why White left the police, because of "privacy issues".

AMBROSE'S RESPONSE TO DRAMA

Yesterday, Ambrose - who has previously worked for Fairfax Media newspaper the Taranaki Daily News - labelled the recording as an error. "But how could you expect a private conversation in a staged media event?" he said.

"It all happened so fast and I couldn't get it [the mic] out of my pouch.

"I couldn't get in and I just grabbed my mic in its pouch and threw it on the table," Ambrose said.

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"That's all I had the space to do. Then I was ushered out, quite forcefully."

He said when he realised he didn't have his mic, he went back and tried to retrieve it but was told by one of the prime minister's media staff she would send it back after it had been sent to the police.

"I knew I had recorded something, but I didn't know what until I got back to my office."

The mic had wirelessly sent the recording to Ambrose's camera, which recorded the audio.

Ambrose is known as a daring freelance photographer and cameraman, having travelled to Vanuatu to shoot the Marum Volcano eruptions in 2010, and spent time chasing tornados in the United States earlier this year.

"Being in the middle of a cyclone is much more fun than having this kind of attention," he said. "It's just a storm in a teacup, a minor oversight that I inadvertently left it there and it's snowballed."

THE ARMED INTERVENTION FORCE

Kelvyn Alp was part of the Armed Intervention Force, which threatened a series of attacks in Wellington and issued its own Maori passports on behalf of the "Maori Government of Aotearoa'' in 2000.

He later formed the Direct Democracy Party which stood in the 2005 election.

Alp is the former leader of the OurNZ Party and stood for the Tai Tokerau by-election in June. The party is not running in the general election.

- Stuff

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