Minister in the dark for months about SIS breaking the law

The fact that it took over four months for the Minister to be informed of major breaches of the law by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) shows he has lost control of his agency, said the Green Party today.

The fact that it took over four months for the Minister to be informed of major breaches of the law by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) shows he has lost control of his agency, said the Green Party today.

Under questioning by the Green Party, the Minister in-charge of the SIS admitted that he was only told of the breach of law in relation to visual surveillance in October. This was four months after the reporting period of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security's annual report which ended in June 2015. The Minister was only told two weeks before the report was released.

“The visual surveillance laws are new powers and it is unsettling that the Minister wasn’t monitoring their implementation very closely,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“These breaches of law happened between January and June, and the Minister was only told in October, which means he was in the dark for at least four months. That is not a Minister who knows what is going on in his department.

“The Minister has taken a hear no evil, see no evil approach to overseeing his spy agencies; he is just as bad as the former Minister, John Key.”

The Minister also admitted that he will not be ordering a review for New Zealanders who were wrongly denied security clearance because the SIS failed to follow its legal obligation of procedural fairness.

“It is unacceptable that the Minister refuses to urgently order a review of those who have been unfairly tarnished by the botched security clearance process. He owes it to those New Zealanders,” said Mr Shaw.

“Most of the people who would have been penalised are law abiding, good people who have been unfairly stained by a black mark on their record that could stay there on their record for the rest of their lives.

“The SIS needs more oversight and less powers, the opposite of what this Government has been doing.

“The SIS currently has a very watered down oversight committee, that committee needs to be disbanded and replaced with a proper democratic Parliamentary Select Committee,” said Mr Shaw.

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