The state apparently has me under covert investigation.
It began two weeks ago. My Christchurch friends and colleagues were served, some at home, some at work. They were summonsed by a senior insolvency officer who explained they could be apprehended should they refuse. Such notices are a detention, an arrest without charge.
The guys are motor mechanics, engineers and motor engineers.
They turn up the following Wednesday as ordered, each at separate times. The deputy official assignee swears their oath.
They are interrogated by private investigators from a firm called InDepth Forensics, Hamilton.
I have the recordings.
On Thursday I email and ring the PI firm. "Why are you investigating me?" They hang up.
I email and leave messages for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment manager Mandy McDonald. She won't return my calls.
On Friday I go to the MBIE office in Christchurch. The boss can't answer my questions: she doesn't know what's happening. She says she will speak to her solicitor and get back to me. She doesn't.
I ring Minister Steven Joyce's office. I make no progress.
I return to MBIE's office on Monday. I'm refused an appointment. I'm told the deputy official assignee "only administered the oath". But the deputy official assignee signed the recording as "interviewer". I'm asked to leave. I refuse.
I wait quietly in the foyer for 2 hours.
Joyce's staffer emails: But because the "Official Assignee [is] an independent body, and also under Hon [Paul] Goldsmith's responsibilities, I do not think I can assist you further."
Goldsmith is in Paris explaining how he's making "it easier for businesses to increase productivity and innovate".
I ring the Institute of Private Investigators. Useless. I email the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority. Ditto.
I complain to the Privacy Commissioner. I don't hear back.
I provide a two-page summary for local MP Nicky Wagner. She rings. Finally someone is taking my complaint seriously.
On Tuesday I drop in a letter to the Christchurch MBIE. Now there's security. The guard tells me he's there to see his girlfriend. I tease him.
Keith's still there an hour later. He admits he has been called because of me. He wants to know if I will be back.
Tuesday night. Wagner must have kicked butt. Mandy McDonald sends a clearly hurried email. She assures me I am not under investigation. It's taken nearly a week.
But why the questioning under the detention powers?
The next day I get a letter from another MBIE staffer warning me that reporting the content of their examinations of my friends and colleagues would render me liable to a year in prison plus a $5000 fine. But, according to the email from McDonald, I'm reporting a non-investigation.