Journalist Nicky Hager has filed more High Court proceedings against police, less than a month after his last successful court case against them wrapped up.

Hager’s legal team today announced that documents released to him by police under the Privacy Act on February 29 allegedly reveal that police also obtained his travel information from airlines.

“The police wanted to know who Mr Hager was travelling with, where he was travelling, when he was travelling, who was funding the travel, and whether Mr Hager was funding anyone else’s travel,” a statement from Hager’s legal team said.

The statement also claimed: “The purpose was to try to identify Mr Hager’s confidential informants. All of this was done without Mr Hager’s knowledge.”

…Hager’s barrister, Felix Geiringer, today said that what the police have done with Hager’s travel information “has all of the same problems” that existed with the raid on his home.

“The police were seeking to bypass Mr Hager’s rights to protect his sources by obtaining Mr Hager’s private information from third parties. But they did not tell the people issuing the production orders that that was what they were doing.”

He added: “What the police were trying to do here could do enormous damage to the ability of the New Zealand public to receive information.

“Journalists need to be able to travel to meet sources, they need to talk to some sources on the phone, to exchange emails with them. If the police can do what they were trying to do here then it will be very difficult for journalists in this country to promise to keep sources confidential. The public’s source of information on such things as public corruption could dry up.”

…Mr Geiringer said: “In some ways what the police did in this case was worse than the raid on Mr Hager’s home. They tried to obtain the information in secret so that Mr Hager couldn’t claim privilege over it.

“Shortly after the raid on his home, Mr Hager’s lawyers sent a letter to the police. In that letter they told the police the efforts to obtain Mr Hager’s information were unlawful and that Mr Hager’s information held by third parties would also be privileged.

“But, the police did not tell that to the people issuing the travel data production orders. Then the police unlawfully hid the facts of these searches from Mr Hager for well over a year.”

– A newspaper

Hager has done all he can to prevent the police from catching a criminal. I am not surprised that they did all they could to find the information elsewhere. If the law is changed to prevent interaction with criminals by journalists these issues will not exist. Let’s change the law. It is Rawshark who should be in court, not the police.