The Department of Conservation (DoC) has admitted spending more than $100,000 of taxpayer money on controversial private investigators Thompson & Clark.
- Spy agency Thompson & Clark still on list of approved government contractors
- Private spying by Government departments 'concerning' - Privacy Foundation
- Patrick Gower: Why the Thompson & Clark investigation matters
Opponents of the 1080 poison have forced DoC to admit it uses the private investigators to monitor their social media, costing $103,187.
However, DoC has since denied ordering them to spy.
"The Department of Conservation has not contracted Thompson and Clark Limited or any other investigator to undertake surveillance," it told Newshub.
Opponent of 1080 Clyde Graf says he's "not surprised, but it is concerning". Those who want use of the controversial poison stopped say they have caught people photographing them on protests.
Newshub asked both police and Thompson & Clark if the photographers worked for them - both denied it.
DoC would not appear on camera, but said anti-1080 activists subject its staff to intimidation and threats - including threats to kill.
DoC admitted using Thompson and Clark for:
- Government Protective Security Requirements (PSR)
- Security awareness training
- Security assessments
- Monitoring threats
And it seems a 'matey' relationship between Thompson and Clark and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) spy agency may have helped get them the contract for the PSR work - protecting government departments against threats.
SIS have overall responsibility for PSR - and emails show Thompson & Clark wanted in.
Thompson and Clark says: "Hi mate is DOC a mandatory PSR organisation?"
The SIS operative replies: "Yes it is".
Soon afterwards, Thompson & Clark responds: "A beer sounds like a smashing idea".
There is a cosy relationship, leaving government departments like DoC ducking for cover.