Not often I agree with John Pagani

It is not very often that I agree with John Pagani, but today I must with his blog post about the Urewera arrests.

So just adding that up:
– The High Court said the evidence could be admitted.
– The Court of Appeal said it could be admitted.
– The Supreme Court overruled, in some but not all cases, by three to two.
(Why doesn’t it surprise me to see the Supreme Court once again judicially legislating? But that argument can wait for another day.)

As Greg O’Connor of the Police Asociation says:

the Supreme Court has ruled on what it has identified as a gap in New Zealand’s law covering the use of any video surveillance by Police.  It has essentially ruled that because there is no affirmative provision in law making such surveillance legal, it must by default be considered illegal.  As such, it has ruled any evidence gathered from such surveillance is inadmissible except in narrow circumstances where other considerations ‘on balance’ mean it should be allowed despite being improperly obtained.

“That is different to how the law has been interpreted by the Courts up until now, where it has essentially been assumed that because video surveillance is not prohibited, it is generally permitted.

And this is supposed to be evidence of police incompetence? I don’t think so.


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  • peterwn

    The same sort of daft decision making which decreed that a driver in the booze bus must be allowed to phone a lawyer (if reasonably possible) before undergoing an evidential breath test. The only sensible advice that a lawyer can give is to undergo the test. If it is negative, end of matter, if the driver does not undergo it, goodbye to his licence for a while. The only sensible aspect of the decision, is the driver cannot require that the lawyer be present, nor be let off if it so happens that none of the lawyers on a list kept in the booze bus can be contacted.

  • Greg O’Connor is mistaken:

    “That is dif­fer­ent to how the law has been inter­preted by the Courts up until now, where it has essen­tially been assumed that because video sur­veil­lance is not pro­hib­ited, it is gen­er­ally permitted.”

    Video Surveillance is allowed, but only if you don’t break the law when doing it. This video surveillance involved an illegal trespass, which is what made it dfferent from other lawful video surveillance that has happened in the past.

    This also isn’t different to how it has been done in the past. Even the High Court judge in this case said the video surveillance was illegal. It was just that she’d have allowed it as evidence even though it was illegal. It was the Court of Appeal that changed the law from how it had been applied in the past, and this was fixed by the Supreme Court.

    • peterwn

      You are wrong. The Police only broke the law when the Supreme Court said they did. Up to that point, they did not break the law and four judges (1x High Court and 3x Appeal Court) said so.
      In total, 6 judges (1xHC, 3xCA, 2xSC) said they did not break the law, and three judges (3xSC) said they did break the law. And all 9 judges are among the top legal people in New Zealand.

      To be brutally blunt I think the 3 SC judges concerned did not take sufficiently into consideration the human rights of ordinary Kiwis to go about their business – this needs to balanced with the human rights of criminals. Unfortunately, Lord Goddard is no longer on Earth – he knew how to fix crims.