By Alan Tristram and Scoop reporters
Otaki resident and family man Adi Leason – one of the Waihopai 3 – has been let off the hook with the Government’s decision to drop its $1.2 million damages claim against the trio.
But the Otaki schoolteacher and gardener is reported as saying he won’t rule out further action against the communications spy base.
The Crown yesterday unexpectedly dropped its court action against the ‘Waihopai Ploughshares Trio’ who damaged one of the radar dome covers in an attack in April, 2008.
It will no longer sue them for $1.2 million damages, the alleged cost of their disarmament action at the Waihopai spy base.
This development comes in response to Waihopai Ploughshares’ application for leave to appeal against the October 2013 Court of Appeal decision awarding damages.
It means that the Crown will no longer be able to pursue Waihopai Ploughshares for any of the $1.2 million sought, but also that Waihopai Ploughshares’ arguments against the decision will not be heard by the Supreme Court.
In April 2008, Adrian (Adi) Leason, Fr Peter Murnane and Sam Land – entered the grounds of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spy base at Waihopai, said prayers, and then deflated the dome covering one of the two antenna to highlight the role of the base in the ‘war on terror’.
The spy base is part of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) network and, among other things, uses the ECHELON global communications interception system to intercept private and commercial communications.
After Waihopai Ploughshares were found ‘not guilty’ of all charges in a jury trial in March 2010, the Attorney-General responded by lodging a civil claim on behalf of the GCSB for $1.2 million – the alleged cost of replacing the dome, as well as the cost of beer, juice and savouries for the workers who repaired it.
The motives for the Crown finally dropping the damages claim are unclear – perhaps because it is an election year, the government is particularly keen to avoid any further revelations about the GCSB?
Or perhaps it is linked to one of the Waihopai Ploughshares’ legal arguments – that the civil claim for damages is not justified on public policy grounds due to the ex turpi causa defence, which means that a court may deny relief to a plaintiff (here the GCSB) whose cause of action is founded upon illegal activity. And as events over the past two years have shown, the GCSB clearly has been acting illegally.
In September 2012, it was revealed that the GCSB – acting on behalf of United States’ authorities – had illegally intercepted communications of permanent resident Mr Kim Dotcom.
The outcome of a police investigation, released in August 2013, confirmed that the GCSB had acted in breach of Section 14 of the GCSB Act 2003, which (at that time) prohibited the agency from intercepting communications of any New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
Also last year, the Report of the Secretary of the Cabinet’s investigation into the GCSB’s activities and its compliance framework was released. It identified a range of compliance, oversight and organisational issues in the GCSB, and revealed that the GCSB may have illegally spied on 88 New Zealanders between April 2003 and September 2012.
Rather than holding the GCSB accountable for illegal activity, the government instead enacted amendments to the GCSB Act in August 2013 to extend the agency’s surveillance and interception powers to include the communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.
Waihopai Ploughshares groujp says it appeals to all people of faith and courage to pray, advocate and take action for an end to New Zealand’s involvement in global surveillance and support for war.
The greoup says:”They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4
Link to full Scoop story — http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1402/S00046/waihopai-ploughshares-crown-drops-damages-claim.htm