A New Zealander accused of intentionally attempting to make an intimate visual recording at our embassy in Washington DC can now be revealed as the country's top military attache.

The Herald first reported that a Kiwi citizen was charged after allegedly trying to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the diplomatic building in the American capital between July 26 and July 28 last year.

It can now be revealed that the accused is Commodore Alfred (Fred) Keating - he was New Zealand's most senior ranked member of the New Zealand Defence Force in the United States and the head of defence staff and the defence and naval attache to the US.

The 58-year-old military leader from Northland, who had a more than 40 year career, was the face of diplomacy, negotiating and strategy for the Defence Force to US forces.


Today, Justice Grant Powell dismissed Keating's interim name suppression appeal after it was revoked by a District Court judge.

At his first appearance in the Auckland District Court on March 5, Keating was granted interim name suppression before being remanded on bail to re-appear in court on March 29.

Commodore Fred Keating.
Commodore Fred Keating.

One that date Keating's defence counsel Graeme Newell entered a not guilty plea and elected trial by jury on Keating's behalf.

The sole issue of the trial will be identification, Newell told Judge Kevin Glubb.

Keating is accused of planting a hidden camera in one of the embassy's unisex bathrooms, which was later discovered by staff.

Newell further argued for continued name suppression and said there was a potential prejudice to Keating's fair trial rights and prejudice to potential witnesses who may come forward.

"Their evidence would be tainted," Newell said.

The Crown Solicitor at Auckland, Brian Dickey, opposing the application for name suppression in the District Court, said there were no issue surrounding fair trial rights.


"These events happened in Washington in the confines of the embassy ... There was an extensive police investigation at that location," he told the court.

"He doesn't speak for the Defence Force and he certainly doesn't speak for the chief of defence," Dickey added.

The court heard from Newell that publication of Keating's name may also cause hardship to the Defence Force and endanger the safety of his daughter who serves in the military and is deployed.

It may also cast suspicion on another person who shares the same surname, Newell said.

However, Keating is not related to New Zealand's outgoing Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

Alfred Keating, a former high-ranking military attache, makes his way to court. Photo / Michael Craig
Alfred Keating, a former high-ranking military attache, makes his way to court. Photo / Michael Craig

Judge Glubb said he was not satisfied that the man's fair trial rights would be breached or that any of the other issues raised would create undue hardship if his name was published.

The judge made an order to lift the suppression of the accused's identity - however Newell immediately indicated he would appeal the judge's decision - resulting in suppression automatically being reimposed in the interim.

Earlier this week, in the High Court at Auckland Newell said Keating had not told his daughter of the charge - who is currently serving with the navy abroad.

He said the DC embassy should be told it was Keating who was the attache charged but this could be done without being his name being published in the media.

The lawyer said there was also the threat of "speculative bullying" for Keating's daughter by other servicemen and women.

"Why would anyone in the armed forces take out something from the conduct of the father on the daughter?" Justice Powell asked, adding that discipline and the chain of command may reduce the risk.

Keating's affidavit on the matter was also described by the judge as "very sparse"

The court heard Keating is now retired and has turned down consulting work due to the allegation.

Prior to being a defence attache to the US, Keating was the commander of the Royal New Zealand Naval base at Devonport.

Last year, he also represented New Zealand at a United Nations convention on the law of the sea.

The New Zealand embassy is located in an area of Washington called Embassy Row, where many countries have diplomatic outposts and attaches stationed.

New Zealand's current Ambassador to the United States is Tim Groser.

International law experts previously told the Herald that New Zealand's criminal jurisdiction applies to the case because of where the alleged act occurred or who the accused is.

The High Court heard today that Keating, who resigned his position after being charged, had diplomatic immunity from prosecution in the US.

Keating's career

Keating first joined the navy in January 1976 and was posted to sea onboard HMNZS Otago, according to his Defence Force records.

In 1982, Keating was selected for advanced technical and professional education which he did while stationed with HMNZS Tamaki, the Auckland Institute of Technology and HMS Collingwood.

A street view of the Embassy of New Zealand in Washington DC. Image / Google
A street view of the Embassy of New Zealand in Washington DC. Image / Google

He was commissioned as an officer in May 1987 and was posted to the United Kingdom to study systems engineering at the Royal Naval Engineering College Manadon with HMS Collingwood.

He returned to New Zealand in 1989, before taking part in more operational postings from 1993 to 1995.

He was the operational trials officer for the Anzac first of class trials and the introduction of HMAS Anzac and HMNZS Te Kaha into service.

In 1999, he moved into maritime headquarters before being promoted to commander in February 2001.

From July 2003 until December 2006, he served as New Zealand's naval attache and senior technical officer for the navy to the US.

On returning to New Zealand in January 2007 he was promoted again and assigned to defence headquarters in Wellington as the assistant chief of navy.