National president complains of 'covert surveillance'

MATT NIPPERT
Last updated 16:43 05/02/2013
Peter Goodfellow
PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ
National Party president Peter Goodfellow.

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National Party president Peter Goodfellow has complained of being subjected to covert video surveillance.

The complaint, heard before the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority, alleges private investigator Clinton Bowerman hid a video camera to film him meeting his estranged wife Libby Black.

Bowerman told the authority he had been working for Black as both a personal guard and private investigator since March 2009.

Lawyers acting for Goodfellow told the authority the filming occurred during a meeting at an upmarket Orakei address on August 11 last year, and was revealed when the National Party president noticed something amiss.

"He noticed something under a beanie hat. He lifted it up, and under it was a camera which had been on for an hour and seven minutes," the lawyer said.

Under questioning by authority member Roger Gill, Bowerman conceded the filming was covert but insisted he had "implied consent" from Black to undertake the surveillance.

"She never said that she didn't consent to the filming," he said.

Bowerman's claim contrasted with evidence submitted by Goodfellow's lawyers that Black, when the camera was discovered, denied knowing anything about the filming.

Bowerman said he was unwilling to call Black as a witness as this would then subject her to "tumultuous" cross-examination by lawyers representing her former husband.

Gill requested Bowerman furnish evidence of Black's consent to the covert recording and the case was adjourned until February 22.

If the authority made an adverse finding its disciplinary powers include being able to cancel private investigator licences and impose fines of up to $2000.

Goodfellow's lawyer also complained Bowerman did not wear a badge identifying him as a private investigator, and did not have adequate legal notice on his letterhead.

Gill accepted these technical breaches of the law governing private investigators had occurred, but concluded they were minor compared to the allegation of unauthorised convert surveillance.

"They're not really hanging offences," he said.

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