Scoop Foundation Stretch Goal
$10k To Look Deep Inside The Police Hunt For Rawshark
An announcement from the Scoop Foundation concerning its PledgeMe Campaign
from Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson
With 11 hours to go in Scoop's crowd-funding campaign to establish the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism
the Foundation has decided to pump up the volume of its "1000 Kiwis" PledgeMe campaign and see if it can raise the funds
to undertake an important piece of investigative journalism work and thereby demonstrate one of the key intentions of
the Scoop Foundation project.
So far we have already raised nearly $3k of the $10k we plan to use to fund a deep and meaningful look inside the NZ Police's hunt for Rawshark. Rawshark was the hacker who took the private emails and Facebook conversations from Cameron Slater and provided them
to Nicky Hager and other news media in the run up to the 2014 general election.
Please share our plan with your networks if you support this work. The link to share is pldg.me/scoop
Background To The Police Raid on Nicky Hager
In October 2014 the police raided the home of NZ's pre-eminent investigative journalist, Nicky Hager acting on a
complaint made by attack blogger Cameron Slater over the hacking of his email and FaceBook account, and the use of this
material in the book "Dirty Politics".
Dirty Politics told the story of - among other things - the relationship between the ninth floor of the Beehive which
houses the office of the Prime Minister John Key and attack blogger Cameron Slater.
An investigation by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security later found a PM staffer - Jason Ede - had
covertly assisted Slater to obtain classified material in order to enable the PM to smear then Labour Party leader Phil
Goff in the lead-up to the 2011 election.
At the time of the police raid on his house Nicky Hager was working as part of an international team put together by
Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept about New Zealand's role within the five eyes - based on documents leaked by Edward
Snowden. When the police raided Hager they swept up material related to that inquiry as well as to many other
investigations being undertaken by Hager.
Many members of public of New Zealand were appalled at the raid and over the space of just a few days donated over
$70,000 towards funding a legal challenge of the police raid.
That case went to court four months ago before Clifford J. in the High Court at Wellington.
The judgment in the case when issued will clarify important issues around the use of material provided by hackers to
journalists, source protection and journalistic privilege as well as provide guidance to the Police around what they
need to do to project journalistic privilege when exercising search warrants against journalists and media
During the High Court trial Scoop requested a copy of the case file which contains detailed evidence on how the raid was
put together and what other intrusions were made into Nicky Hager's private communications and records. In a decision on
Scoop's application in which he overruled the Crown's objections Justice Clifford ordered that large chunks of redacted
evidence be released to Scoop.co.nz to provide full transparency into the police raid.
On October the 24th Scoop obtained the first part of this file - the complete statements of claim and defence. We shared
these with media colleagues at Radio New Zealand and the NZ Herald and several stories were published over that weekend
mainly about the Westpac decision to provide Mr Hager's banking data to the police.
This past Friday November 13th we received the main evidence bundles and published them on the morning of Saturday 14th
November to coincide with an NZ Herald story by David Fisher which deals with senior police officer concerns over the
setting up of a significant inquiry to hunt down Rawshark.
So far it has only been possible to scratch the surface of what is in the several hundred pages of evidence and
There is much much more in this case file which is important and deserves light shone on it.
And for that reason the Scoop Foundation has decided to use the final hours of its establishment Crowd Funding campaign
to raise some funds to ensure that the police's investigation into the Rawshark hack receives the attention it deserves.
Why Does This Particular Police Investigation Matter?
The politicisation of the New Zealand police force is not a new problem. But it is one that is definitely getting worse.
A key aspect to this case is that is not necessary for the politicians to be aware of or be consulted about police and
security and intelligence actions for them to benefit from them.
During the 2011 Tea-pot tapes incident and now with the Rawshark case we see an apparent police willingness to - in
"Thomas Becket" style - serve the interests of their masters, possibly unspoken, intentions.
And for this reason the opportunity to look in detail inside this case - which has arisen because alleged over-reach by
the police - is one which is important and we think worth pursuing. At times it is in hard cases that we learn important
lessons as a society. In this case we expect to find insights into how police conducted themselves when confronted with
an intensely political charged situation - one which offered them the opportunity to intimidate a journalist who has
caused them considerable embarrassment during his distinguished career.
But delving deep within a court file of this magnitude requires significant resources - resources, which thanks to the
financial challenges facing the news media, are not available.
A Demonstration Of Crowd-funded Investigative Journalism
Yesterday we published an announcement on Scoop
celebrating our success in reaching our initial crowd-funding goal of $50k and announcing a stretch goal to raise $10k
towards a Scoop Foundation’s first investigative journalism grant.
Making grants like this has always been the original plan to for the Scoop Foundation. Grants which enable important
pieces of journalistic work to be undertaken. This fund-raising campaign will therefore also form the basis of an
example of the sorts of things that the Scoop Foundation might be able to assist with or involve itself with.
Therefore we are now announcing that we are seeking to raise $10k to assemble a team to look more deeply inside the full evidence bundle from the Nicky Hager Police Raid file
which Scoop published on Friday.
We plan to look back at how the police operation to catch Rawshark unfolded inside the New Zealand Police, and how it
led to a raid on NZ’s pre-eminent investigative journalist just weeks after the general election.
We hope to find a mainstream news publisher to work with us on this project in the same way that Pro-publica does in the
US. So far the NZ Herald has published two stories based on the court papers that Scoop obtained by way of request to presiding Judge Clifford J
Yes this plan may be viewed by some as a bit controversial. But that is what journalism is supposed to be. Challenging
the powerful is our role and this seems therefore a very appropriate way to launch the Scoop Foundation.
And because this is a hard case then it is likely to be a useful experience for the foundation - testing to some extent
the limits of what it is possible for us to achieve via funding journalism in this manner.
Inside The Hunt for Rawshark - The Story So Far
Hager intrusion details
- NZ Herald (David Fisher)
- Alastair Thompson, Trustee The Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism, Tuesday, 17 November 2015