Previously suppressed proceedings against Thompson and Clark Investigations Ltd have today been made public. Three activist organisations had complained to the Registrar of Private Investigators and Security Guards. The complaints concerned the much publicised bungling of TCIL’s efforts - exposed in May 2007 - to infiltrate and gather information on community groups through the use of spies and surveillance equipment.
“The complaint was taken by Peace Action Wellington, Wellington Animal Rights Network and the Save Happy Valley Coalition. It alleged a breach of section 34 of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act that prevents the use of unlicenced employees as spies. It also alleged a breach of section 52 of the Act that prevents the use of videotaping by private investigators,” said Jonah Marinovich, of Save Happy Valley, one of the complainants.
“This case poses serious issues for the industry. The use of informants is common place but has no justification in law. Likewise, the use of surveillance cameras on public land, without jurisdiction nor under any contract, by the industry is widespread and equally questionable. Both are certainly intrusive, an invasion of privacy, and morrally reprehensible. Quasi-policing operations for corporate profit, involving the infiltration of community groups, are unacceptable,” said Mr Marinovich.
“It is clear that the industry is operating with impunity. The rapid growth of private policing in this country is eroding our civil rights by intruding on our privacy. This Act is the only legislation placed on Private Investigators in New Zealand,” said Mr Marinovich.
“It is supposed to protect the privacy of the public, and we need a greater degree of assurance as to the fulfillment of that purpose. Somali Young failed to be present at the hearing, despite being subject to a subpoena to appear,” said Mr Marinovich.