Case for compensation, says police spy's ex

DOUBLE LIFE: Rob Gilchrist was outed as an informant after his girlfriend, Rochelle Rees, stumbled across police emails.
DOUBLE LIFE: Rob Gilchrist was outed as an informant after his girlfriend, Rochelle Rees, stumbled across police emails.

The woman behind the unmasking of a police spy says he might have a good case for compensation.

Former informant Rob Gilchrist is preparing to sue police for the consequences of a decade of deception, during which he passed on information about animal, environmental and political activist groups he infiltrated.

He was outed in late 2008 after asking former girlfriend Rochelle Rees, a computer programmer and animal rights activist, to fix his laptop, where she discovered emails between him and police.

Yesterday, Ms Rees said: "I still believe he has a lot to answer for, but on the other hand, I expect he has a good case in some respects."

In a draft statement of claim for his action against police, Mr Gilchrist alleges police deliberately leaked or recklessly disclosed documents that were passed to journalist Nicky Hager. It is alleged Mr Gilchrist suffered distress, embarrassment and anxiety as a result of the release.

Ms Rees said his outing was due to his own carelessness in not deleting emails. In other respects, she thought he had grounds for complaint.

"I do genuinely believe Rob has been harmed by the use the police made of him, though Rob still needs to take responsibility for his actions, and the harm to me and other activists caused by him under the direction of the police.

"Police have caused a lot of trouble for many people, and one of them was Rob. Police used him for over 10 years, and they must have known the effect it would have on him."

Mr Gilchrist said police took unfair advantage of him and directed that he carry out various activities, including unlawful acts.

His draft claim seeks $500,000 in damages, as well as declarations from the court against police.

It names retired deputy police commissioner Rob Pope and Superintendent Win Van der Welde as having managed the officer responsible for "handling" Mr Gilchrist.

It is alleged Mr Pope and Mr Van der Welde went beyond their powers and, through their instructions, restricted activists' freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly, invaded their privacy, and incited unlawful behaviour.

Among the information Mr Gilchrist wants from police is details of the bank account he used at the time.

Police have offered financial records but say some grounds of the claim are fundamentally flawed, and they should not have to provide documents until the claim is filed and its scope can be tested.

In yesterday's decision in the High Court at Wellington, Justice Jill Mallon agreed with police.

The Dominion Post