Google is once again under fire for failing to remove links showing the identity of the man charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane.

Google said it had since removed the material.

It is the latest example of a breach by Google, after the tech giant emailed subscribers the suppressed name of the 27-year-old Auckland man last December. Anyone signed up to Google's "what's trending in New Zealand" email was sent his name.

The email also said there had been more than 100,000 searches on its search engine of the man's name.


The email service has since been suspended.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says it is
Justice Minister Andrew Little says it is "disturbing" the material could be accessed. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Justice Minister Andrew Little told Sky News it was "disturbing" the material could be accessed and expects authorities to consider if there are grounds for prosecution.

"Regardless of whether you know the connection between the subject matter of the case, the victim of it and the person whose name pops up, it still concerns me that that is happening."

Google's New Zealand government affairs manager Ross Young said in a statement to Sky News: "When Google receives suppression orders we review and respond appropriately. We recognise this is an issue that needs to be addressed across industry.

"We acknowledge that we don't always get it right and look forward to working with the New Zealand Government and law enforcement on this important issue."

The publication of the suppressed name of the accused may compromise a fair trial and due process, something Little is particularly concerned about.

"It is wrong if we want to preserve fair trial rights for defendants and ultimately have a trial where the victims know there is a fair chance to see justice done."

Google said it understood the sensitivity around the issue and pointed to the action it had taken by suspending the Google trends email service and removing reported web pages from New Zealand search results.


But it was not enough for Little.

"The New Zealand ... branch of Google had shown a lack of interest in taking up any follow-up action to the issues that were raised at the end of last year.

"At the international level or global level, I have to say the response by executives has been more constructive," Little said.

The accused pleaded not guilty in the Auckland High Court in January. Justice Simon Moore has set a trial date for November 4.