Southern Response chair refusing to resign after Govt spying fiasco

With the private spying scandal called an "affront to democracy", the question now turns to accountability - and whether there will be any.

Ross Butler, the chair of Southern Response, was aware of the spying. He says it was because there were several death threats, and threats of harm and there was a duty of care to protect staff.

He's apologised - but has also dug in, and says he won't resign.

However the Minister responsible, Megan Woods, is deeply unhappy with what has gone on, and will be calling him tonight to express that - and isn't ruling anything out.

The inquiry into the use of private investigators by the public service to spy on Kiwis says there are failings across the sector.

Cam Preston was just trying to sort out an insurance claim when he got spied on.

"To have this covert surveillance of people that were exploring their basic legal options is incomprehensible, that this would happen in New Zealand," he said.

He was far from alone.

Hundreds of Christchurch people attended meetings about taking legal action against Southern Response.

What they didn't know was Southern Response had spent taxpayers' money getting private investigators Thompson and Clark to monitor them - including having an operative to infiltrate the meetings and record what they were saying.

"I've said it before: this is not the Kiwi way," Mr Preston said.

At what is now the Ministry of Primary Industries, Thompson and Clark likely used surveillance and a paid informant to monitor animal rights activists.

Two employees had second jobs with Thompson and Clark; the Ministry of Business Employment and Innovation lost objectivity and impartiality in using them to monitor oil protestors.

At the New Zealand Transport Agency, Thompson and Clark accessed its motor vehicle database for potentially improper purposes

And in a separate inquiry, Police found 16 staff disclosed information to Thompson and Clark and are now under investigation.

The inquiry looked at Thompson and Clark's reporting to Government agencies on "issue-motivated groups", which it regarded as a "security threat". These include the Green Party, Mana Party, Greenpeace and iwi in Northland, the East Coast and Taranaki.

Thompson and Clark issued a statement saying it accepted some if its work could have been more stringent. It also maintains there is a legitimate place for the work they do, in helping agencies keep their people safe.