Contents of teapot tape 'should be reported'
Tue, 15 Nov 2011 3:15p.m.
By 3news.co.nz staff
A lawyer representing victims of the News of the World phone hacking scandal has weighed into New Zealand’s ‘teapot tape’ debate, defending the secret recording as “good journalism”.
Mark Lewis represents the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler along with others who claim their phones were hacked by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
He says the recorded conversation between Prime Minister John Key and ACT candidate John Banks should be made public.
“There is a difference between the News of the World hacking into someone's phone to find out private information and seemingly - whether accidental or on purpose - effectively a journalist investigating some political statement,” he says.
“That's something that is in the public interest and sounds like it should be reported without the unfavourable comparison to what was clearly a criminal act.”
• Live updates from the election campaign – click here• Click 'view video' for Melissa Davies' full interview with Mark Lewis
Mr Lewis says it would be different if the teapot tape recorded a private conversation unrelated to the election.
“Something to do with the Prime Minister's health or his family situation… that really is nothing to do with anybody. If it's actually to do with how the country is governed then that's good journalism.”
Mr Lewis says the crux of the problem for the News of the World was “lazy journalism”.
“They were hacking people's phones to get cheap stories, there was no ethics or no morality of what they were doing […] this wasn't about finding a Watergate situation, this was just about finding out anything.”
He says Mr Key’s comparison to News of the World tactics was a “cheap shot” with little relevance to the British scandal.
An accurate parallel, he says, was former Prime Minister Gordon Brown who was inadvertently picked up on the campaign trail by a Sky News microphone describing a woman as “bigoted”.
“[He] carried on talking without realising he was still wired up to a microphone and saying something that might or might not have cost him the election.”
Rather than filing a police complaint, Mr Brown apologised to the woman and her family.
Mr Lewis says under English law the release of the tea tape would be very unlikely to lead to a prosecution. In fact he says the police “wouldn’t bother to open a file”.
“It would be very difficult to see, under English law, whether there would be a criminal offence, even if someone had deliberately left a camera running or a microphone running, having indicated that it wasn't running,” he says.
“Maybe under certain circumstances, if it was a deliberate action where you'd misled somebody, that might be effectively obtaining by deception. But it's very difficult to see how it could be.”
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
17/11/2011 7:33:43 p.m.
It's Illegal,says Lindsay G but is it?? that's an issue that's very much up for debate lets let the courts have their day ,,but of course by the time that's done the election will be well and truly over.. All I have to say concerning John Key is that Pride goes before a fall.. He is just a little too over confident for my liking..
16/11/2011 6:30:06 a.m.
They had their cup of tea in a public place. If Key wanted it kept secret then they should have held it in secret. The public has a right to know what was said.
16/11/2011 3:16:59 a.m.
Lindsay G wrote:
It's Illegal, It's Illegal, It's Illegal.
The funny thing now is that 3News is now guilty of profiting from the distribution of illegally gained information. If Key holds out and doesn't comment 3News is going to be in for a whopping legal bill from a court case. I hope your editor is ready for a little time in a small room. Tee Hee
15/11/2011 11:16:20 p.m.
In Britian the police can stop and search you on the street for no reason. We don't want your laws, and consequently Britian should keep it's opinion on our constitutional rights to itself.
15/11/2011 9:54:55 p.m.
Of course it matters what a lawyer from the UK thinks! For starters, he is representing News of the World, which John Key himself brought into the equation.
Secondly, the English legal system is still heavily persuasive in New Zealand and we look to it a lot for guidance.
RELEASE THE TAPE.
15/11/2011 9:16:38 p.m.
Perhaps it was a deliberate ploy on the part of Key, Banks, and Brash, to force the Herald on Sunday to publish information by the back door of the National Party, as it was pretty obvious there was a tape on the table in full view of all involved. There is little doubt the contents of the tape will be published before the election. Just when will be decided by the National Party.
15/11/2011 8:29:49 p.m.
Key & Banks wanted it known about their cuppa together & the National/Act endorsement. Goodness we heard about it for a week prior. Different story when they get all the glory plus a bit extra & they weren't ready for it. My generation grew up with people who had to lip read, we were aware of them as those deaf people were good! These so called pseudo politicians with their lack of intelligence & sensitivity are both a waste of space. Who cares if we hear what was actually said. We already know it wasn't nice by the expression on Keys face. It was Ugly! Time for them to both go. Before they sell us out.
15/11/2011 7:35:27 p.m.
Steve Parkes wrote:
"Why is it relevant what a lawyer from the UK thinks?"
Rather obviously because Key chose to make the comparison with the UK situation. The lawyer represented victims in the NotW scandal.
"Do you want high profile people wondering is there is a bug in the room everytime they speak?"
If they were in a private room you'd have a point, but they weren't. Watch tonight's Campbell Live on demand, you'll see how it wasn't really that private at all.
15/11/2011 6:26:54 p.m.
Jude, it is entirely relevant what the lawyer for the News of the World victims has to say. It was Key who used the News of the World scandal as an excuse for him wasting police time with a frivolous complaint. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. You can't expect to invite journalists to a stage-managed media event and expect your conversation to be of a private nature. For goodness sake, the PM could meet John Banks anytime for a private conversation. Key is a victim of his own grandstanding, I'm afraid.
15/11/2011 5:19:10 p.m.
This video looks a little staged to me. It doesn't seem as if he understands that intercepting private conversations in New Zealand is illegal. Also, the questions that the reporter poses are constructed in such a way so as to encourage a particular answer. It would be interesting to see HOW the reporter explained the situation to him.
Needless to say, I do agree with what he's said. I do think that the recording was unintentional and that John Key should release it/or a transcript of it. It's a convenient distraction for National that diverts the media's focus away from their policies.
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.