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Sunday, 21 October 2007 - 3:43 PM NZDName: "Joe"
The following transcript of a national radio Interview builds my confidence in the police immensely
National Radio Morning report Friday 19 October 2007
Morning report And further on the issues in Ruatoki, ah and one former police officer and politician who ah is speaking out on the issue though perhaps on a different side of the debate than one might expect, is former National party and rot MP, Ross Meurant, Mr. Meurant, welcome to the program.
Ross Meurant Morning Sean.
Sean Plunket one would have expected as a former leader of Red Squad and policeman and one would say, right of center politician, you would be supportive of police actions, is that, in fact, your position?
Ross Meurant No, I heard Ron Mark earlier on your program referring to the rule of law and and his concern that it is not being upheld. Of course what Ron seems to miss is that the police also have to abide by the rule of law. Um and that’s the first point I’d like to make. Ah, no, it’s not my position to support the police. My concern is, I mean the last job I had in the police force. An inspector in charge of an intelligence gathering agency, I mean it’s a bit of an anomaly the word intelligence, police intelligence, really it’s information gathering, and my concern is, as I look back on my career that too often, information is gathered, whether it’s by the SIS or by the police, and the police are a sub-culture they have a tendency to look at everybody as villains until they prove themselves guilty.
Sean Plunket Ah, innocent, Till they prove themselves innocent.
Ross Meurant They prove themselves innocent. And they have this tendency to ahh, exaggerate to to make subjective assessments on information they get. The information is peer reviewed by someone who’s job depends on producing information for the next level up and I think it’s a very flawed process.
Sean Plunket Are you saying the bureaucratic structure of police and intelligence organizations kind of encourages them to see problems or crimes, or greater crimes than actually exist.
Ross Meurant Yes I do. And if we go back to my maiden speech. I pretty much regurgitated much of the material, ah, I had access to, in my maiden speech, and it was to name a number of people who were Maori radicals and who had, were saying the same, there was “kill a white die a hero” that type of thing in those days, and people had a different view on how the country should be run. Now I actually was a victim of the same culture and having the subjective view of the material before me.
Sean Plunket Are you saying in retrospect, that you were kind of radical baiting back in your early political career. You were misusing information in the same way.
Ross Meurant I I I didn’t, as I look at it now I can see that I have been brainwashed to the extent that I actually believed the nonsense that we were producing out of the police, that the information that we were getting in and the decisions we were reaching were too subjective, there was no man on the Clapham bus, sitting outside, looking in, and saying, ‘Is this a reasonable conclusion to draw on the basis of the information you have collected’.
Sean Plunket Mr. Meurant, The police would say that those people they went and got the warrants from perform that role.
Ross Meurant Well again there’s a step before that, you see, the police sit down and subjectively analyse the information they have and then they reach conclusions and take those conclusions to judges and say can we have a warrant on the basis of our conclusions. My point is that it is the step before that which is flawed, that the judges don’t actually have the opportunity to assess ahh.
Sean Plunket The raw data, as it were.
Ross Meurant Yeah.
Sean Plunket Alright, we’ve heard this morning from John Key that it was, in fact, the SIS that briefed politicians on this, ahh, in your experience would this then be an SIS operation, or a police operation? Because I thought there were restrictions on how the SIS could spy essentially, on New Zealand citizens.
Ross Meurant Well again that’s the next point, I think, that’s most concerning here. There always has been people running around with guns who don’t have licenses, there always will be. And there’s provision under the Arms Act for police to actually arrest and search without warrant and to use this sledge hammer to crack a nut, ah I think is most concerning, what it does, this anti-terrorism thing is to give instruments of the state, such as the police and the SIS, an excuse, an opportunity to spy on us all, and this really is George Bush stuff, I mean ahh this is the sort of stuff that caused the yanks to end up in Iraq, A subjective assessment, evaluation, I mean if you look now at the states where George Bush is now facing criticism that he’s saying the state is omnipotent, This is hagelism this is what Hitler did, That I have right to go and spy and eavesdrop on my people without getting warrants, I mean this is the problem, it’s the thin end of the wedge where these agencies start invoking draconian powers that the New Zealand government---
Sean Plunket In reality though, all the polititians and the public can do is now wait to see what doe come out and wait for somehow more information to emerge.
Ross Meurant Well I think we are going to see a number of firearms charges, but I say again those could have been brought by normal policing operations using the Arms Act, We’re probably going to see some conspiracy charges, and of course they are spurious at best, that somebody said something to somebody on the telephone. I mean, much of this stuff is wackey backey or barroom wisdom, or bravado and ah we’ll do this we’ll do that and look to take a quantum step from somebody learning bushcraft or somebody having unlawful possession of a gun and say “this is a threat to the nation, this is the penultimate step to ahh to terrorism, Imean is to draw a very long bow and I think at the end of the day we’ll look back on this chapter um with some embarrassment.
Sean Plunket Thank you for joining us. That is Ross Meurant, former National party and rot MP also a former police officer involved in Intelligence gathering and of course the red squad.