Dotcom to sue over prison treatment

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 07:57 28/11/2013

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Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will sue private-prison operator Serco over what he describes as his "inhumane treatment" at Mt Eden Prison.

Serco said it had no record of his complaints on file, even though Dotcom said he filled in more than a dozen forms while on remand, complaining about his treatment at the prison. He also had his lawyers write to Serco on his behalf.

Dotcom alleged in a book published on Monday that he had been denied food, blankets, a towel, soap and toilet paper during his first evening in the Serco-managed Mt Eden Prison, following his arrest on US-based copyright charges last year.

That meant he had nothing to clean himself with after going to the toilet. He and his co-accused were told the basic hygiene needs could wait until the next day, he said.

Dotcom also accused Serco of neglecting his health care and said he believed prison authorities had been complicit in an attempt to entrap him.

A guard allowed a fraudulent call, which was supposedly from his lawyer, to be placed to him outside normal business hours by a person who then claimed to be a prosecutor working on his case and who requested a bribe, he said.

"At some point in the future I am definitely going to take [Serco] to court," he said.

A Serco spokeswoman told Fairfax in a written statement this week that none of the allegations had been raised with the company previously, and it had received no complaints corresponding to the allegations.

Dotcom said that was "plainly false".

"I wrote while I was in Mt Eden a dozen reports and complaints and made everything that was wrong there official," he said.

"They have these forms you have to fill out. While I was there I filled out more than a dozen forms.

"My lawyers wrote several letters to Serco while I was in prison pointing those things out."

His lawyer, Paul Davidson QC, had written to Serco asking it to find out the source of the fraudulent call, he said.

Serco's spokeswoman said she had made inquiries of people at Mt Eden Prison before issuing her statement to Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

"We pulled out Mr Dotcom's file, we reviewed his allegations versus what was in that file, and there were no comments of that nature in his file," she said.

The Corrections Department has described Dotcom's allegations about his treatment at Mt Eden as an "operational matter" best addressed by Serco.

Labour's corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said that was "not good enough" and the department should be accountable.

She said the allegation regarding the fraudulent phone call in particular was "quite significant".

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