Nicky Hager's case against the police over the search of his home was in court today, and its already produced one surprising revelation: the police broke their promise not to use seized material until its status had been decided by the courts:
Police broke their undertaking not to use information seized from the home of Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager, the investigative journalist's lawyer claims.
Officers acting on a complaint from blogger Cameron Slater, whose hacked emails were the source of much of Dirty Politics, seized electronic and other material in the early October search of Hager's Wellington home.
Some of the documents have been shown to Hager in an edited form. One that was first released in edited form was later shown in its entirety.
Hager's lawyer, Felix Geiringer, says the unedited version indicates police have broken the undertaking to seal Hager's information and not use any of it pending a decision in the case.
It is alleged an officer involved in the search read a document and instructed another officer to make inquiries about a person whose name appeared in the document.
This is significant. The court case is over whether the information could have been seized at all, or whether it was covered by journalistic privilege. By breaking their undertaking, the police deliberately sought to make the court's decision moot and to benefit regardless of whether their search was ruled lawful or not. It is a deliberate attempt to subvert the ruling of the court and a clear sign of bad faith and a lawless attitude among the police - the same sort of approach which saw charges thrown out in Nelson recently. And those responsible for it need to be held to account.