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Silly Season Timing Perfect for Annual Intelligence and Security Report. 'Turkey, Chicken or Just Plain Stuffed' ?

27 December 1999

Media Release For Immediate Use

The third annual report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, retired High Court Judge Laurie Greig, tabled in Parliament last week, has come under fire from one of the first people to lay a complaint against the SIS with the Inspector-General.

'Itís pathetic. I canít believe that someone actually got paid for writing this!' said Aziz Choudry after reading the 20-page document.

'I know itís the silly season. But its bland assurances about the operations of the SIS and the GCSB and its self-congratulatory tone are bizarre, inappropriate and disturbing given Laurie Greigís failure to adequately explain his conclusions that the actions and procedures surrounding the botched, illegal 1996 SIS break-in at my house was 'lawful reasonable and justified' when the Court of Appeal ruled the break-in to be illegal'.

'Indeed it was the Inspector Generalís June 1997 whitewash of the SIS break-in and refusal to state whether or not SIS agents were involved which forced me to take a civil case through the courts.'

In his annual report, Mr Greig asserts that: 'I believe that we can congratulate ourselves on being able to operate Security and Intelligence Services effectively and appropriately for the benefit of New Zealand as a whole on such a small scale.'

'Yet in correspondence to me following last yearís Court of Appeal ruling he conceded that his conclusions were based 'in part, on an erroneous view of the law.'

'The Inspector-Generalís report on my complaint appears to have been as botched as the bungled SIS break-in. And his annual report fails to acknowledge this failure in any way.'

'At a time when the new government is running hot with the rhetoric of accountability in the public sector and a fairer society, I canít make my mind up as to whether the best description of the intelligence agencies and the supposed mechanisms of oversight is turkeys, chickens, or just plain stuffed,' he said.

'The oversight and review mechanisms are merely cosmetic. They are there for show ' not effect.'

'1999 has seen the powers of the SIS greatly expanded with the passage of legislation which legalised an illegality supported by all parties except for the Greens and the Alliance. This report adds further weight to criticism levelled at New Zealand intelligence agencies that they remain unaccountable and a law unto themselves'.

Mr Choudry has no illusions that things will improve under the new Government.

'The Alliance has repeatedly called for an inquiry into SIS operations and its leader Jim Anderton has stated that he is opposed to the existence of the SIS. But Helen Clark actively dissuaded David Small and I from taking further action against the SIS after we had expressed our dissatisfaction with the Inspector-Generalís findings, and has been unsympathetic and indeed hostile to concerns raised by a wide spectrum of New Zealanders about the role of the SIS. Indeed it is difficult to see the difference between Labour and National on this issue.'

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