The Attorney-General is seeking court costs of almost $14,000 from the cameraman at the centre of the "tea tapes" saga.

Bradley Ambrose sought a declaration from the High Court at Auckland as to whether a recording he made of a pre-election conversation between Prime Minister John Key and Act candidate John Banks was legal.

A microphone left on the table where the pair were drinking tea recorded their conversation. Ambrose, a cameraman, denied intentionally recording the conversation and in a sworn affidavit said he did not consider the content of the tape private.

But Mr Key believed the conversation was private and laid a complaint with police against Ambrose, who responded by seeking a declaration from the High Court as to whether the conversation was in fact private.


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

If police decide that there is enough evidence to lay charges against Ambrose, the Prime Minister's claim of illegal activity would be tested in a criminal court.

Now, the Attorney-General has filed a memorandum in the High Court at Auckland seeking $13,669.45 in costs from Ambrose. 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.

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.

Ambrose yesterday referred questions to his lawyer Ron Mansfield, who was unable to be contacted.