Discs to be returned

05:12, Feb 25 2013

An Invercargill District Court judge has ordered documents mistakenly given to the accused in a major drugs case be returned.

Judge Kevin Phillips issued the written decision this afternoon following a hearing on Friday.

Police made the application to get the documents back after it was revealed last week 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 the files contained confidential and privileged information and the accused were not entitled to have that information.

Some of the unredacted information included the identity of police informants, the court was told.

The court was told all of the seven people charged, except David Payne, had returned the information.

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Mr Payne's lawyer, David Slater, argued the information had been provided to his client following 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, Judge Phillips says in his written decision police had not intended for the unredacted information to be made available and disclosure of such information could harm those it related to.

He ordered that all accused and their counsel return all discs and information supplied to them by police, that Mr Payne deliver his hard drive and/or laptop and/or other electronic storage device that had been used in relation to the discs supplied by police to the registrar of the Invercargill District Court by 4pm tomorrow so it can be examined, and that the other accused and their counsel confirm in writing by 4pm tomorrow that they have destroyed and removed the information.

The Southland Times