Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Search of ex-SFO lawyer's computers fails to find fake email

Anita Killeen. File photo / Supplied
Anita Killeen. File photo / Supplied

Two forensic searches of computer devices belonging to a former Serious Fraud Office lawyer charged with forgery have failed to find an allegedly fake email sent to media.

Auckland barrister Anita Killeen faces charges of forgery, accessing a computer system and two counts of using forged documents after she allegedly sent to media an email purportedly written by SFO chief executive Adam Feeley.

The police seized electronic devices, including laptops, a cellphone and an iPad, from her home to search for traces of the forged document.

Defence lawyer Paul Davison, QC, challenged the validity of the search on the grounds the computers held legally privileged material belonging to Killeen and her husband, also a lawyer.

But an agreement was reached under which the police could search the devices for particular phrases or words that appeared in the fake email.

The High Court granted the Herald access to the court file in which a joint memorandum from Mr Davison and Crown lawyer Mark Lillico said searching Killeen's cloned computers, cellphone data and iPad had "again failed to locate the documents provided".

The file said the police would now search the devices using software that was able to recover documents from web-based email systems, something that has not been tried yet.

The police allege Killeen forged emails to make it look as if Mr Feeley wrote them and sent them to reporters.

The fake emails were sent soon after the Weekend Herald revealed how Mr Feeley celebrated the laying of criminal charges against Rod Petricevic by drinking champagne belonging to Bridgecorp directors with his staff.

The story was based on a genuine email written by Mr Feeley saying it had been "a fantastic week" because of the prosecutions against Bridgecorp and other high-profile investigations such as one into Five Star Finance.

"In light of the Bridgecorp charges being laid, there is a bottle of Gosset champagne [which] needs to leave the confines of my fridge at home and be drunk by those involved with the case," said Mr Feeley. "The relevance of which is that it previously resided in Rod Petricevic's office."

The SFO boss was reprimanded by the State Services Commission and Police Minister Judith Collins, but escaped serious censure.

Soon after, forged emails in the name of Mr Feeley were sent to the Herald and the National Business Review.

Killeen was made redundant from the SFO in 2010, soon after Mr Feeley took over as director, and was working as a barrister when the charges were laid in November.

- NZ Herald

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