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New spy-watcher won't review GCSB cases

Tuesday 2 Jul 2013 6:04 a.m.

Former High Court judge Andrew McGechan has been appointed as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Former High Court judge Andrew McGechan has been appointed as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

The new man appointed to keep an eye on the country's spy agencies won't be revisiting 88 questionable cases of snooping that his predecessor ruled legal.

Former High Court judge Andrew McGechan was appointed on Monday as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, replacing 79-year-old Paul Neazor, who had held the role since 2004.

Mr McGechan's appointment is only in the interim as the role is likely to be overhauled following changes to the law governing the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) this year.

Mr Neazor is leaving the role at one of the most turbulent times for the country's spy agencies, following revelations of illegal spying by the GCSB which came to light during Kim Dotcom's court case last August.

The agency's unlawful surveillance of the New Zealand resident prompted a review of other GCSB spying, with a report by cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge in April turning up 88 potential cases of illegal surveillance.

A month later, Mr Neazor cleared all 88 cases of any law breaches - although his report itself was kept under wraps.

Prime Minister John Key says that matter has now come to an end, and he doesn't see a need for Mr McGechan to review those cases.

"We needed to deal with those issues and move on," Mr Key told media.

"There was no bias or any particular reason for him to give anything other than the ruling he gave - it's what he genuinely believes."

Mr Key denies Mr Neazor ticked off the cases before hurriedly departing the role.

"He was always going ... In fact, he stayed a little longer [than intended] because we'd been finding a new person."

NZN

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