Not a good day for Nicky Hager

John Roughan has been forced to release recordings of his conversations with Prime Minister John Key as part of a court case relating to the “teapot tapes”.

Roughan had refused to surrender transcripts and recordings used for his biography John Key, Portrait of a Prime Minister. He was asked for the documents a year ago under the discovery process for a defamation case being taken against Mr Key by freelance photographer Bradley Ambrose.

The Privacy Commission told the columnist last week that his book did not meet the criteria for the Privacy Act exemption which allowed journalists to protect their sources.

Roughan is the third journalist to be captured by a High Court ruling last year which said a reporter’s research for a book did not qualify for protection under privacy rules.

It appears the Courts have pretty much eroded journalistic privilege.   This may cause quite a chilling effect on people coming forward with information that they consider should be public if it means that the courts can order their identities to be revealed.

Also, all work product can be captured by the Courts if it decides to do so.

This is clearly not good news for journalism in general, but quite bad news for Mr Hager specifically.   A number of legal decisions have made it increasingly harder for him to maintain his current position:

  • Journalists who write books are not journalists at the time
  • Research, work product, background data for the book isn’t privileged
  • Hacked data is to be considered stolen property

And of course, knowingly working with a thief of stolen property, and using that property to profit from opens up a whole new line of action under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

There have been a lot of stories over the last week or so that I have not and still can not respond to due to undertakings I have made to the courts.  But a lot of those stories are factually wrong.  In some cases, I believe this is deliberate.

The law is on my side.


– Isaac Davison, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.