It's taken right-wing political consultant Matthew Hooton 16 months to get answer from police, and even then those answers raise more questions
Matthew Hooton has blogged today about his efforts to get answers from Police National HQ on how investigating officers handled complaints that the emails at the heart of Nicky Hager's book Hollow Men were stolen.
Hooton made an OIA request about the investigation and he says it has taken 16 months to get an answer from police. Under the OIA a request is supposed to be dealt with in 20 working days.
The police have said that they were first notified of a complaint in August 2005 but didn't start investigating until September 2006, presumably around the time that Don Brash laid a complaint about the alleged theft. It certainly seems a long time to wait, but a lot depends on who the initial complainant was. Hooton doesn't say. It may have been logical to police that in such a sensitive case they wouldn't start investigating until the main victim actually complained. And remember, Nicky Hager has consistently and publicly insisted that there was no theft, just a good old-fashioned political leak. Hager still wants Hooton and others claiming he received stolen goods to apologise.
What's more unusual is the fact that police waited another nine months after Brash complained to interview anyone. But that's not new. The final point Hooton makes is rather curious. Police officially declared the case closed in April this year, but in their letter to Hooton they've changed their tune and said “while the matter is not actively being investigated at present, the file remains open and has not been closed”. Now that's just a complete contradiction and does make you wonder what the police are playing at. Hooton has every right to be frustrated.
Still, Hooton's final suggestion, that a new National government should start an investigation into what he believes is the politicisation of the police force has no merit. For a start, who would do the investigating? And think about it... an investigation by a new government, sparked by a complaint that involved their own MPs, involving a book that exposed some less than savoury practices by those very MPs? Now if that's not politicisation, I don't know what is.