David Fisher

Senior reporter of the year

Dotcom after witnesses to alleged cover-up

Kim Dotcom leaves the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kim Dotcom leaves the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is trying to drag one of the country's most senior police officers into court to ask if he was part of efforts to get deputy Prime Minister Bill English to cover up illegal spying carried out as part of the FBI-led operation against the internet service.

Mr Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison QC yesterday told the High Court at Auckland the case raised questions about "the credibility of the New Zealand police force".

Chief judge Helen Winkelmann was asked to call Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess to court. Mr Burgess was the police officer leading the specialist organised crime task force which led to the arrest of Mr Dotcom last year - and the police commander who approved use of the anti-terrorist team in the raid.

Mr Davison said he had questions over "efforts to close this down by gaining a certificate from the minister", referring to the once-in-a-decade order signed by Mr English as acting Prime Minister which would have covered up illegal GCSB spying.

He also wanted to have the senior detective who led the operation - Detective Inspector Grant Wormald - back on the stand. Questions over Mr Wormald's credibility were a factor, including the issue of if there was "some sort of a strategy of concealing the GCSB's involvement", he said.

Mr Davison said he wanted to know how Mr Wormald could assure the court there was no New Zealand-based surveillance in the case - and then later admit the GCSB had been brought in to spy on Mr Dotcom and his family. He said there were questions about Mr Wormald's credibility which could lead to the court taking a "very jaundiced view" of evidence he had given.

It included questions around the blocking out from Mr Wormald's notebook of information that would have revealed the GCSB involvement.

The hearing yesterday was the next section in a case which earlier ruled the search warrant used in the raid to be unlawful. Mr Dotcom and his three co-accused were back in court asking for the return of items taken, which they say will be needed to prepare for the extradition case being brought by the United States.

Mr Davison said he wanted to examine how the anti-terrorist Special Tactics Group came to be used for the raid. He said evidence showed Mr Burgess signed off use of the team even though he was not one of those senior officers with authority to do so.

Mr Davison also questioned whether there was a deliberate strategy by police of withholding information. He said police had only recently provided more information showing it had held an intelligence file on Mr Dotcom from November 2010.

There were no findings yesterday as the court action led to two new court cases spinning out of the "real muddle" before the High Court.

It was a term used by the Crown's new lawyer, Kristy McDonald QC, to describe the court actions stemming from the illegal spying, and the bungled and heavy-handed raid in January 15 months ago.

The two new cases seek compensation from the identified errors by the police and GCSB, giving rise to further delays to the extradition hearing currently set down for August.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 20 Apr 2014 00:32:01 Processing Time: 523ms