An Invercargill District Court judge has ordered that documents mistakenly given to the accused in a major drugs case be returned, saying the disclosure could harm those it related to.
Judge Kevin Phillips issued the written decision yesterday following a hearing on Friday.
Police made the application to get the documents back after it was revealed last week that censored files relating to Operation Canary, and which were given to the seven people charged, could be uncensored.
At Friday's hearing, lawyer Sarah McKenzie argued that the files contained confidential and privileged information and the accused were not entitled to have that information.
Some of the uncensored information included the identity of police informants, the court was told.
All seven charged, except David Payne, had returned the information.
Payne's lawyer, David Slater, argued that the information had been provided to his client after disclosure requests and he was therefore entitled to have it.
He also argued that the district court did not have the authority to order its return.
However, in his written decision Judge Phillips says the police had not intended the uncensored information to be made available and that disclosure of such information could harm those it related to.
He ordered all accused and their counsel to return all disks and information supplied to them by police.
He also ordered Payne to deliver his hard drive and/or laptop and/or other electronic storage device that had been used in relation to the disks supplied by police to the registrar of the Invercargill District Court by 4pm today so it can be examined.
He ordered that the other accused and their counsel confirm in writing by 4pm today that they have destroyed and removed the information.
- The Southland Times