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Police target media in teapot tape scandal

Thursday 17 Nov 2011 11:07 a.m.

By 3news.co.nz staff

Police investigating the teapot tape controversy have demanded Radio New Zealand hand over "unpublished news material".

"Officers working on the case have contacted Radio New Zealand wanting unpublished material relating to interviews it conducted with the cameraman who made the recording which he gave to a Sunday newspaper," Radio NZ reports.

"Radio New Zealand's head of news, Don Rood, has refused to hand over any material gathered by news staff and says the news organisation will always protect its sources."

A search warrant is expected to be executed today or tomorrow. It has been reported that three other media outlets are also going to be searched, but police wouldn't say which. 3 News has not yet been issued a search warrant.

The Herald on Sunday has insisted the recording, by freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose, was made accidentally. 3 News also has a copy of the recording, but neither organisation has released it yet, fearing prosecution and fines.

Editor of the HoS Bryce Johns says they are yet to hear from the police.

"We will have our say on Sunday," says Mr Johns. "It is too major an issue to avoid."

Radio NZ insists it doesn't have a copy of the recording, made last week at Prime Minister John Key's cup of tea with ACT's John Banks, a photo-op that appears to have turned sour.

Labour leader Phil Goff says it appears Mr Key is trying to gag the media.

''It's got out of control, it's bizarre. The Prime Minister should put an end to it by just coming clean now, being upfront, being honest.

''It's going to ridiculous lengths. It has been blown out of all proportion.''

Mr Key has refused to comment on the matter. When asked if he was "at war" with the media, he said: "I don't think that is an accurate description."

When asked if the tape contains discussion of him getting "unbridled power"," Mr Key declined to comment.

When asked if the investigation was good use of police resources, Mr Key said police have "spare time" because National has lowered the crime rate over the last three years.

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