Search at Nicky Hager's home 'polite, friendly' – Crown

  • 15/07/2015
Search at Nicky Hager's home 'polite, friendly' – Crown

The search of investigative journalist Nicky Hager's home wasn't a raid and was in fact carried out in a polite and friendly way, a court has been told.

Lawyers for Hager are in the High Court at Wellington arguing that what they've labelled an "extremely invasive" 10-hour raid on his home in October 2014 should never have happened and was in fact unlawful.

The search took place in the aftermath of the release of Hager's book Dirty Politics, which was based on information taken from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater's emails and online communications.

The information was given to Hager by an anonymous hacker and the search was carried out as part of the police probe into who hacked Slater's computer.

Deputy solicitor-general Brendan Horsley, representing the police and attorney-general, today disputed the picture Hager's lawyers have painted of the search.

Mr Horsley said police officers didn't turn Hager's house upside - they were reasonable, courteous and careful - and it couldn't be described as a raid.

"It was conducted in a polite and friendly way," Mr Horsley said.

Hager had lawyers present throughout the search and were actively involved in it.

Mr Horsley said the search was conducted in the "least intrusive manner possible" given the broad claim of journalistic privilege that existed over everything in the house.

Earlier, Mr Horsley contested the argument made by Hager's legal team that because police failed to mention the likelihood that Hager would claim journalistic privilege, the judge wouldn't have considered those issues and the warrant should be deemed unlawful.

Mr Horsley said it's well known Hager is a journalist and the judge was likely aware journalistic privilege would be an issue.

The mere absence of mention of journalistic privilege in the warrant application wasn't a "material issue" that would make the warrant unlawful, Mr Horsley said.

Hager has sought a judicial review of the way police applied for a search warrant, the subsequent granting of the application, and the way the search was carried out.

His legal team says the case could have a "chilling effect" on media freedom and would-be whistleblowers.

The hearing will wrap up later on Wednesday and Justice Denis Clifford is expected to reserve his decision.

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