Quake claimant Cam Preston reveals shock at finding out he was spied on

A Christchurch man spied on after fighting to get his insurance claim settled says he's no troublemaker.

Cam Preston is one of possibly hundreds of homeowners Government-owned insurer Southern Response surveilled between 2014 and 2017.

"Anyone who was on Facebook talking about their insurance claims and the way they were being dealt with by Southern Response may have been snooped on, on there. Anyone who went to a meeting or a protest about Southern Response... may have been spied on," Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower, who broke the story, told The AM Show on Thursday morning.

"There are potentially hundreds of people who are waking up today to find out they have been snooped on, spied and observed, followed potentially, or even infiltrated by undercover agents."

Documents show Thompson and Clark, the private investigation company hired by Southern Response with taxpayer money, was deemed a "threat". It even suggested he may be capable of murder.

Appearing on The AM Show, Mr Preston said he never threatened anyone at Southern Response "in any way".

"I don't think I was a troublemaker. I was an organiser. I certainly would speak my mind and I would speak to the media, and I know they weren't very happy about that. That's the only thing I can think of that motivated them to do this."

Cam Preston.
Cam Preston. Photo credit: The AM Show

He said Southern Response is "trying to paint over" the revelations with "a veneer of threats to their staff and their security, which is totally ridiculous".

"Perhaps I became an activist over the years, but I just started off like anybody else - a homeowner in Christchurch who wanted their insurance claim resolved. That was it, really."

How it began

Mr Preston isn't sure when the surveillance began, but became aware of it in 2015.

"I was eating my cornies and the police knocked on my door unannounced, and started asking me questions... I got a hold of my police file and that's when I first discovered this name 'Thompson and Clark Investigations Limited'. That's when it first occurred to me.

"It was a total shock to myself and my family. I traced it back to a protest that happened a few years before that. It looks like this contract had been hired to perform a package of services of 'real-time situational awareness'.

"It's spying, is what I see. That's how I would characterise it. It's a fancy term for spying."

Mr Preston has no problem with the police visit - they were just doing their job - but he wants to know who told them to investigate him, and why.

"I honestly don't know. But these are questions that I have."

Doubts the truth will ever come out

Mr Preston's claim with Southern Insurance was settled at the end of 2016, and his EQC claim a year later.

"It's been a long, hard struggle - but it's been very similar to thousands of other Canterbury homeowners' struggles with EQC and the insurance companies."

Asked if he'd be keen to have the investigation into the insurer's actions be handled not by the State Services Commission - which reports the Government - but an independent body, he seemed resigned to perhaps never finding out the truth.

"Southern Response use the most-expensive law firm in the country, and they are extremely well-resourced."