'Tea tape' newsman's costs 'political vindictiveness'

By Paul Harper

Bradley Ambrose. Photo / Supplied
Bradley Ambrose. Photo / Supplied

The Government's demand for court costs from cameraman Bradley Ambrose can only be seen as "political vindictiveness", according to political analyst Dr Bryce Edwards.

The Attorney-General has filed a memorandum in the High Court at Auckland seeking $13,669.45 in costs from Mr Ambrose after the freelancer sought a declaration from the High Court on whether the "tea tape" conversation was private.

Those costs include $3760 for hearing preparation costs and counsel fees; $5076 for general costs including researching and filing; $1377.70 for air travel and $278.52 for taxis.

Chief High Court Judge, Justice Helen Winkelmann, rejected Mr Ambrose's request.

Otago University political analyst Dr Bryce Edwards told Newstalk ZB the almost $14,000 request is a small amount for the Government, and it was legitimate for Mr Ambrose to try to get a declaratory judgment on whether the conversation recorded between John Key and John Banks was private.

Dr Edwards felt the demand smacks of revenge.

"I don't think we can see this as anything other than political vindictiveness on the part of the Government, which is a bit scary as we expect the media to be robust," he said.

In a submission to the court, counsel for the Attorney-General Sean Kinsler said the Attorney-General consented to bringing Ambrose's matter to a hearing just two days after it was filed in the High Court.

That caused a "compressed timetable" and only two working days for the Crown to do the necessary pre-hearing work.

He said the total spent by the Attorney-General on the matter, up to the end of the hearing, was $23,442.95, however they were seeking what they believed was an appropriate and reasonable rate based on the work done and expenses incurred.

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