Surveillance bill to target privilege

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 17:51 05/03/2012

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A raft of changes to the controversial Search and Surveillance Bill are being proposed, including changes to the right of journalists to protect their sources.

The unheralded change to "journalistic privilege" is contained in a paper issued by Justice Minister Judith Collins today and proposes a new regime where journalists would have to hand over their sources to a High Court judge who would decide whether they were entitled to claim "journalistic privilege".

If the court decided there was no case for protecting the source, details would be handed over to the agency seeking the information.

"While a claim of privilege is being decided by the court, the information in question will be held at the High Court for safekeeping - not with the agency conducting the search," Ms Collins said.

The Search and Surveillance bill had a rocky path during the last term of the National Government, but needs to be in place before April 18, when the temporary Video Camera Surveillance Act was passed.

That legislation was rushed through Parliament after a court ruling threw the right of police to take covert video into doubt.

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