TV3 searched over teapot tape

By Derek Cheng, Paul Harper

Police officers execute a search warrant of the Herald on Sunday offices, accompanied by Gervais Laird (C) a lawyer from APN. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Police officers execute a search warrant of the Herald on Sunday offices, accompanied by Gervais Laird (C) a lawyer from APN. Photo / Herald on Sunday

TV3 is the latest media organisation to be searched by police over the so-called teapot tapes.

The broadcaster reported it had handed over the tea tape audio, footage from the day and the transcript to police, as well as notes made by TV3 news director Mark Jennings on a conversation he had with freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose, as requested under the warrant.

Police yesterday searched TVNZ and the Herald on Sunday within an hour of the High Court rejecting a request to make a call on whether the conversation between Prime Minister John Key and Act candidate John Banks was private or public.

The court decision means the legal status of the tape remains unclear, and its release would still carry the threat of legal action.

Radio NZ has yet to be searched, and the broadcaster said it will not hand over material that could compromise anonymous sources.

Head of news Don Rood said he had asked police for more time while the station took legal advice.

Herald on Sunday editor Bryce Johns this morning told Radio New Zealand the police did not enter the newsroom yesterday, instead a box with the "three or four items" requested was given to police at the door to the building by the company's lawyer.

Mr Johns would not disclose what was handed over, but said it was "logical" they would have asked for things such as a copy of the recording.

"They got what they wanted. We don't like ever giving things away when there are contacts and people have given us information at risk. We didn't feel that was the case here."

Mr Johns said only two or three people at the paper had actually heard the tape.

It is unlikely the tape, which recorded Mr Key's chat with Mr Banks at a media event in Epsom, would be released before Saturday's General Election.

"I don't think you'll find a media organisation in the country prepared to [release the recording] at the moment while we've got a police investigation underway."

Mr John's stood by Mr Ambrose's assurance that the recording was made inadvertently.

"It's unfortunate that a good guy is going through the ringer at the moment as part of what has turned out to be a key election debate."

He slammed the Prime Minister's comparison of the saga to the phone hacking scandal which brought down British tabloid News of the World.

"There are some people out there who have bought the misinformation from the Prime Minister and believe the Herald on Sunday taped or deliberately taped the Prime Minister.

"That is so far from the truth. If that had happened, I don't know that I would have a job right now. We have a very strong company line up of ethics we have to consider each weekend. On the day [before publishing story referring to the tape], we got that ethics list out and ticked them off.

"We're are very happy with the way we did things.

"We are not very happy with the way we have been painted by the Prime Minister.

"People should really have a bit more faith that there is no media in this country that I'm aware of would go down the track of the News of the World. It just wouldn't happen, particularly so soon after we've seen what has happened to newspapers that do that sort of stuff."


- NZ Herald

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