A Defence Force staffer and amateur photographer working in New Zealand's embassy in Washington has been accused of planting a hidden toilet camera.

The claim comes during the trial of former commodore Alfred (Fred) Keating, who is charged with concealing the covert device to film his colleagues using a unisex bathroom at the diplomatic building during July 2017.

The 59-year-old was the senior defence attache to the United States at the time and one of the New Zealand military's highest-ranking officers.

Today, embassy staffer and Defence Force (NZDF) assistant Mike Waller testified during the Auckland District Court hearing via video link from the American capital.

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He said he had bought a hidden camera in 2014 and used it in the diplomatic building.

It was an identical device to that found on July 27, 2017, which prosecutors believe was placed by Keating, New Zealand's former Assistant Chief of Navy.

But Waller, who was a Merseyside police officer, said his camera was used in an effort to catch an opportunistic thief stealing petty cash.

"We had some money that had gone missing from the petty cash till," he said.

Waller and Talei Ruby, the NZDF's business manager in Washington, decided on using a covert camera to "find out who was doing it or stop it from happening".

The BrickHouse Security camera was purchased online by Waller through Best Buy, a consumer electronics company.

Waller, an amateur photographer for the New Zealand Government who has taken pictures of former United States President Barack Obama, told the court his camera was planted for about two or three weeks in the cupboard where the petty cash was kept.

But Waller said his surveillance operation wasn't successful and he decided to store the camera in his locked office drawer.

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When the bathroom camera was found in 2017, Waller was asked if he still had the device - he said it had remained in his cabinet.

But Keating's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, wasn't convinced and accused Waller of the crime.

"Absolutely not, that was not me," Waller said, rejecting the bathroom camera accusation.

Alfred Keating is accused of attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC. Photo / Supplied
Alfred Keating is accused of attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC. Photo / Supplied

Detective Sergeant Paul Stenzel, the police officer responsible for the investigation into Keating, yesterday said there was no evidence showing the top naval officer had bought a hidden camera.

The jury was also shown CCTV footage of a man in the embassy seemingly using Keating's swipe card when the toilet camera was allegedly planted on July 27.

The film records a man in a white short-sleeved shirt walking towards the unisex bathroom.

Just five minutes later, the same CCTV camera records a man walking away from the area.

Keating's swipe card was then used 40 seconds later to access the NZDF office.

The Crown alleges Keating, the former commanding officer of the Devonport Naval Base, is the man seen in the video.

Mansfield, however, believes the mystery person was Waller.

Last week, the court was also shown videos and still images recovered from the toilet camera's memory card.

The first video, filmed on July 27, records a person wearing blue latex gloves positioning the black box inside the bathroom's radiator.

The case has already ended Keating's more than 40-year military career after he resigned just two days after pleading not guilty in March last year.

He had also served as New Zealand's naval attache and senior technical officer for the Navy to the US from July 2003 until December 2006.

The trial, which began on Monday last week, is expected to conclude this week.