Police accessed blogger's bank records unlawfully - report

NZ police car
Police told NZME they "had a lawful purpose for collecting the information". Photo credit: Newshub.

A left-wing blogger says he considered suicide after being turned down for credit because police unlawfully accessed his banking records.

Martyn Bradbury, who runs the Daily Blog website, was suspected by police of being involved in the computer hack which led to Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book.

NZME reports Privacy Commissioner John Edwards ruled the police action's unlawful, saying they had not proved there were "reasonable grounds" to access Mr Bradbury's private banking records, particularly without a court order from a judge.

Mr Bradbury said he suspected something was amiss when in late 2016 he applied for credit to keep his website running, but was turned down.

A Privacy Act request showed the police had sought his banking records, suspecting he might have paid the hacker who accessed computer files and emails belonging to right-wing blogger Cameron Slater (Whale Oil). As a result, the bank's internal fraud department took over handling of his credit requests - turning them down.

Mr Bradbury told NZME he has suffered depression since he was a teenager, and the financial stress triggered "two suicidal episodes".

"When your little black dog morphs and mutates into a huge black bear, you're looking for anything that will ease the anguish and pain."

Police told NZME they "had a lawful purpose for collecting the information but that based on the level of sensitivity of the information, a court order was the only method that should have been used to request this".

In a post on his blog, Mr Bradbury said he has made a formal complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

He also suggested senior figures of the Labour Party may also have had their records accessed by police.

"With Jacinda [Ardern] likely to become the next Prime Minister, the NZ Police need to be upfront with the Labour Party over how extensive their Operation Rawshark surveillance really was."

The 2014 police raid on Mr Hager's property was later deemed unlawful.

Mr Slater was later punished over his involvement in an attempted hack of another left-wing blog, The Standard.

Newshub.

If you wish to talk to someone about mental illness or domestic violence, you can call Lifeline on 0800 543 354, the Depression Helpline on 0800 111 757 or the National Telehealth Service on 1737.