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New Dotcom papers reveal GCSB 'relaxed'

Tuesday 19 Mar 2013 5:18 p.m.

3 News has new details of the Kim Dotcom illegal spying scandal, with documents showing for the first time what spies from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and police were saying behind the scenes.

Hugh Wolfensohn was once a spymaster – the chief legal adviser during the GCSB's botch-job of illegal spying on Dotcom. And for that Mr Wolfensohn has paid the price; he's gone, resigned after a 25-year career – the first real scalp of the scandal.

The question is: did he get a golden handshake on the way out? The spies aren't saying, and neither is their political master.

"You'll have to take that up with him," says Prime Minister John Key.

Documents, obtained by Labour, show for the first time the bungling by Mr Wolfensohn, his fellow spies and the police.

They had a codename for Dotcom: "Billy Big Steps". They certainly started off happy, slapping "BUSTED!" over 3 News footage in a slideshow debrief following the raid in January last year.

"This was a colossal cock-up inside the police and the GCSB," says Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson. "That's the agency that John Key's meant to be overseeing."

"Obviously I've been concerned," says Mr Key.

The documents show just how early the police officer in charge, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, should have known Dotcom was a New Zealand resident and the spying may have been illegal.

On the same day the spying started, police were given information showing Dotcom was a resident. Soon after police had the entire Dotcom immigration file, before the spying ended and the raid.

In February, the GCSB knew spying could be illegal but it took seven months until it was revealed to Dotcom, the Prime Minister and the public. So in February there was a crisis, with Mr Wolfensohn the GCSB's top legal mind.

A GCSB operative describes an unnamed senior officer as "pretty relaxed" about it all. That's because the GCSB came up with a wrong interpretation of its own law, the operative saying "people here have been very relaxed about it all".

"The GCSB legal team was relaxed," says Mr Robertson. "They seem to have caught John Key being relaxed. That's not really good enough."

"In hindsight of course that decision was wrong and that decision is subject to a major inquiry we now have underway," says Mr Key.

The police had been worried about looking like "a bunch of clowns walking roughshod over the law". They took the GCSB at its word, replying "we can go back to celebrating taking down that criminal mastermind", the spies finally saying "so all done and dusted, bring on the next case".

The clean-up job is far from done, and there are likely more changes within the GCSB to follow.

3 News

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