Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager takes further legal action against police

Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager is taking further legal action against the police.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager is taking further legal action against the police.

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager is taking another round of legal action against the police, claiming the way they obtained his travel information from airlines breached his journalistic privilege.

The Dirty Politics author won an earlier case against police at the High Court last December, with Justice Denis Clifford ruling police did not meet their duty of candour when they asked a District Court judge to issue the search warrant.

In a statement on Tuesday, Hager announced he had filed further High Court proceedings after police released documents to him in February under the Privacy Act, revealing they had obtained his travel information from airlines.

The statement said police asked airlines who Hager was travelling with, where and when he was travelling, and how the flights were being paid for, all to "identify Mr Hager's confidential informants".

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Hager's barrister, Felix Geiringer, said police tried to obtain the information in secret so Hager could not claim journalistic privilege, and did not tell those issuing the production orders for the airlines of what information they were trying to collect.

They also failed to those issuing the production orders that Hager's lawyers had written to police after the raid on his house, stating that his information held by third parties would be privileged.

The police only released documents revealing the searches after receiving a preliminary opinion from the Privacy Commissioner following a complaint by Hager, and had admitted there were further documents that they had not given him, Geiringer said.

POTENTIAL FOR 'ENORMOUS DAMAGE' TO PUBLIC

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The actions of police had similar problems to the raid of Hager's home, and could do "enormous damage" to the public's ability to receive information through journalists who had to travel to meet sources, he said.

"If the police can do what they were trying to do here then it will be very difficult for journalists in this country to promise to keep sources confidential.

"The public's source of information on such things as public corruption could dry up."

The statement said Hager was asking the High Court to hear this new claim together with a second claim already being considered, relating to how police had accessed his bank information and how much police would pay in damages for the unlawful raid on his house.

A police spokeswoman said it would not be appropriate for them to comment, as the issue was before the courts.

 - Stuff

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