Radio: Across The Ditch – Privacy and Privilege of Journalists and Sources Tested in High Court

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Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.

    The connection was a bit raspy so apologies for the staccato rhythm to the delivery.
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Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey’s Across The Ditch on Australia’s FiveAA – This week Floods, Privacy and Privilege of Journalists and Sources Tested in High Court, and Auckland mayoralty contenders shaping up – Recorded LIVE on 16/07/15.

ITEM ONE:

Nicky Hager arrives at the Wellington High Court with his lawyers Julian Miles QC (left) and Felix Geiringer (centre).
Nicky Hager arrives at the Wellington High Court with his lawyers Julian Miles QC (left) and Felix Geiringer (centre).
There’s this big case that’s been heard in the High Court at Wellington this week. (Ref. https://eveningreport.nz/2015/07/13/nicky-hager-case-breaking-news-reportage/ )

The case, which is officially referred to here as Nicky Hager V The Attorney General, the New Zealand Police, and the Manukau District Court is seen as pivotal for the way media investigations will be handled in the future.

It is particularly important in that the outcome of the case will define in case law whether journalists should be able to keep their sources private and rely on the privilege of confidentiality…

Such assurances of confidentiality are vital when journalists are receiving information from whistleblowers, people who have exhausted official avenues to hold the powerful to account.

I urge those who have an interest in investigative journalism, fourth estate liberties, and how Police investigations ought to be conducted into hacks in this digital age… to check out Jon Stephenson and Emily Menkes’ reportage of this case on EveningReport.nz.

Specifically, the case is a judicial review into a search warrant issued to police last October that permitted a search of Nicky Hager’s home and the seizure of journalistic material.

The Police search followed the publication of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics,which relied on information allegedly stolen from an Auckland-based blogger Cameron Slater. Cam Slater’s private communications were hacked, by a hacker known only as Rawshark, and passed to Mr Hager, who is renowned as New Zealand’s preeminent investigative journalist.

The book Dirty Politics alleged an abuse of power emanating from within the New Zealand Prime Minister’s office, where staff used attack-bloggers and others to attack political opponents. The communications taken from Cam Slater also suggested an attack network of individuals with National Party connections were also used to dig up dirt on journalists, academics, business people… Basically people who found themselves estranged from the view and will of those in power.

The journalist, Nicky Hager asserted the information, while taken from the private communications of Cam Slater, was high in the public interest, so high was the bar, that it warranted it being published.

Lawyers representing the Crown submitted that the warrant permitting Police to raid Nicky Hager’s home to obtain information and source information central to the Dirty Politics allegations, was justified due to the Police investigation into who the hacker was.

The case zeros in on the degree of privilege journalists should have… privilege that assures their sources remain confidential. This is particularly pertinent to public interest journalism.

After three days of submissions in the High Court at Wellington, on Thursday, July 15, 2015, Justice Clifford reserved his decision.

ITEM TWO

Two seasoned political rivals… former Foreign Minister Phil Goff and former Local Government Minister John Banks look set to go head to head and campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

Across The Ditch broadcasts live on Australia’s FiveAA.com.au and webcasts on EveningReport.nz LiveNews.co.nz and ForeignAffairs.co.nz.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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