Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Bob Jones: I spy ... something beginning with ludicrous

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The police raid on Kim Dotcom's Coatesville mansion. Photo / Herald on Sunday
The police raid on Kim Dotcom's Coatesville mansion. Photo / Herald on Sunday

The Government has been accused of being America's lapdog over the multiple Dotcom fiascos. It's a ridiculous charge.

But the police and our hopeless GCSB spy service are absolutely culpable for turning a simple exercise into a farce.

Extradition treaties are two-way arrangements. Assisted by American authorities, we have exercised it to bring alleged offenders back here. So, too, America has periodically sought our help.

The police reaction to the extradition request for Dotcom was mind-blowingly unbelievable. Mounting a massive war-games exercise when a local constable could have knocked on Dotcom's door and served the papers made them a laughing stock.

Whoever made that dumb decision should be relegated to the stop/go sign position at roadworks, although given his form, the intellectual demands of this position would probably disqualify him.

History says we should expect the very lowest standards from our spy services, this a reflection on the weirdos they attract. The post-9/11 reaction saw the establishment, probably justifiable, of the Government Communications Security Bureau, with a clear prescription. Despite that, they behaved illegally with Dotcom, who was beyond their jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, the Muslim fanatic bombing plots foiled in Britain in recent years have been detected by the surveillance services there. And while the threat here is less, our participation in Afghanistan may be deemed justification by these evil purveyors of superstition as reason to have a go.

Our SIS has a history of similar farcical and illegal behaviour and justification for its existence is highly questionable.

In the late 1950s Cold War era, a Russian Antarctic research ship stopped in Wellington for replenishing. Our then newly formed SIS jokesters placed their personnel, ostensibly painting, on the adjacent wharf shed roof for four days, but in fact spying on the ship.

On the fifth day, the captain advised the ship would be open to the public over the weekend and the crew proudly showed everyone over it. The SIS's history is dotted with such comical antics.

When Sir Robert Muldoon unsuccessfully sued me for defamation in 1985 in a hilarious trial, his counsel called the then SIS boss to give evidence.

As some of the women jurors told me after the trial, when Des Dalgety, Muldoon's barrister, advised who his next witness was, they excitedly anticipated a James Bond type. To their immense disappointment, they got Maxwell Smart in the form of a weedy little fellow wearing a wig.

There's a golden rule in cross-examination, namely never to ask witnesses questions unless you know the answer, but my bloke, Mike Camp, QC, after hearing the SIS boss's nonsense, rightly sniffed lunacy, and couldn't resist.

He drew from this nutter the assertion that the country was potentially riddled with spies everywhere. The judge, jury, myself and Muldoon's counsel (in their case increasingly despairingly) were spell-bound as he dug his hole ever deeper.

"The Te Kuiti Rose Society?" Mike gently suggested. "Quite possibly. They're everywhere, everywhere. The Eastbourne Bowling Club could be riddled with them", the buffoon replied. At this stage the judge, deciding things were getting out of hand, pulled stumps for the day. I joined counsel to find Dalgety's side-kick, Tony Ford, beside himself with rage.

"How dare that mad bastard suggest the Eastbourne Bowling Club's riddled with spies," he stormed, for unbeknown to the SIS head, Tony was an active member and indeed, my father was the club captain at the time. "Your witness", Mike cheerfully reminded him.
In the early 1980s, the SIS were successfully sued after, indicative of their madness, their "subversives list" was released by Muldoon, comprising everyday unionists, socialists and anti-tour protesters. They're stark raving mad with this garbage.

At the time, the Soviet Ambassador and his wife in Wellington were charming and popular guests at parties. Their press attache, who often accompanied them, had sought the New Zealand appointment solely because he was an avid trout fisherman.

But the SIS refused him permission to fish the Taupo rivers - brace yourselves, - on the grounds that he would have to drive through Waiouru. I can still hear him now going on about it. He was incredulous at the proposition that the massive Soviet army would have the slightest interest in our tiny force at the bottom of the globe.

There are numerous similar stories about our SIS whose deranged personnel, numbering about 200, have natural conspiracy theory susceptibilities.

Indeed, I recall Muldoon complaining to me about them pestering him over threats he viewed as absurd and wanting to tail him everywhere. We don't need them and should wipe them out.

But we do need the Security Bureau, incompetent though they have been with the Dotcom matter and for which the Prime Minister has apologised. He better get used to it, for they're bound to give him more embarrassment in the future.

- NZ Herald

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