David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Dotcom set to claim $6m

Kim Dotcom at the hearing into the GCSB in July. He accuses police of an "excessively aggressive approach" to the raid on his mansion. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kim Dotcom at the hearing into the GCSB in July. He accuses police of an "excessively aggressive approach" to the raid on his mansion. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Taxpayers face a $6 million bill in damages over the unlawful raid and illegal spying on Kim Dotcom and others.

Legal papers filed with the High Court allege an "excessively aggressive and invasive approach" by police during a raid on Dotcom's mansion 18 months ago.

They also accuse Deputy Prime Minister Bill English of acting unlawfully in trying to cover up the spying by the GCSB before the raid.

The statement of claim, filed with the High Court at Auckland, seeks compensation for the actions of police and the GCSB over the lead-up to and execution of the raid last year.

The raid was done at the request of the FBI, which is seeking extradition of Dotcom and three others to the United States on charges of criminal copyright violation.

Dotcom's lawyers, Paul Davison, QC, and William Akel, from Simpson Grierson, described a chain of evidence taken from court actions since the raid. Among the actions was a finding at the High Court that the search warrant used for the raid was unlawful and the raid illegal.

The claim accused police of "unnecessary force and aggressive intimidatory tactics" by using armed anti-terrorist police in an airborne assault on the north Auckland mansion.

The claim highlighted doors being kicked in and Dotcom's wife Mona, pregnant with twins at the time, being kept forcibly from her three young children.

It also targets the GCSB in the legal action for illegal spying - and then attempting to legally cover it up.

Prime Minister John Key was forced to apologise last September after Dotcom's legal team told the High Court it was illegal by law for the GCSB to spy on New Zealand residents. Dotcom and co-defendant Bram van der Kolk were residents and protected by law at the time.

The claim says the GCSB should have known they were not to be spied on - and should have done its own checks instead of relying on the police's flawed evidence.

GCSB Director Ian Fletcher. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
GCSB Director Ian Fletcher. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

It accused GCSB boss Ian Fletcher of acting unlawfully by giving "incomplete" and "misleading" information to Mr English, who in Mr Key's absence signed a once-in-a-decade certificate legally ordering the GCSB's involvement to be kept obscured.

The certificate turned out to be worthless when the illegality was raised.

The claim specifies sums ranging from $1 million to $50,000 for a range of points. An additional case is made for the cost of repairing damage, including kicking in doors and ruining expensive computer systems, caused by police in the raid.

The case is set to be heard in March, just before the likely date of the long-delayed extradition hearing.

Lawyers acting for the Crown say the police were acting in accordance with the law in executing a search warrant and are protected from being sued.

They also said the Special Tactics Group was "to ensure police were able to secure the property quickly and safely and with the lowest possible risk of relevant evidence being lost".

They also "deny any person sought or conspired to conceal unlawful conduct on the part of the GCSB".

Dotcom, his wife and co-defendants have taken the case.

Mr English's office did not return calls yesterday.

READ THE LEGAL DOCUMENTS HERE:

The statement of claim

The statement of defence

The response to the claim

HOW IT UNFOLDED:


January 20, 2012: The police's anti-terrorist squad make an airborne
assault on the mansion of Kim Dotcom as part of an FBI copyright criminal
investigation.

June 2012: The High Court rules the search warrant for the raid was
unlawful and the search was illegal.

August 2012: The police officer who led the operation refuses to name
people involved in planning the raid ``because of the nature of the work they
do''.

September 2012: The mystery group are revealed as operatives for the
Government Communications Security Bureau. The spying they did was
illegal, forcing an apology from the Prime Minister.

April 2013: Papers are lodged with the High Court at Auckland seeking
damages and compensation for the raid.

- NZ Herald

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