Oil giants illegal spying on Greenpeace NZ | The Jackal

10 Aug 2017

Oil giants illegal spying on Greenpeace NZ

The tools employed by big business interests to undertake surveillance on activists around the world are extensive. Make no bones about it; if you oppose destructive business practices, you will likely be monitored. But just how legal is it for multinational companies to spy on New Zealand citizens in their private lives? Well I guess we’re about to find out.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Exclusive: Greenpeace says it has caught spies in the act

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman told the Herald the surveillance included tracking people in their private lives.

The environmental lobby group has filed a civil suit in the High Court against Thompson & Clark Investigations alleging breach of privacy and seeking an injunction to stop the surveillance.

Nick Thompson, a director of Thompson & Clark, last night said the firm was bemused by Greenpeace's claim and would respond appropriately in due course.

Thompson & Clark (who've taken their website down) denying the accusations is par for the course really. It's not the first time they've gotten into trouble for questionable surveillance practices either.

Thompson & Clark (TCIL) has previously been caught using paid informers to spy on community groups in New Zealand. They often claim that animal and environmental organisations and their activists are extremists. However they've never been able to point out any real illegality anywhere.

The lobby group claims to have caught two people spying in "a reverse sting" after it was tipped off that the group was under almost daily surveillance, Norman said.

The group had also been leaked documents. Together they had led Greenpeace to believe they have been the target of a sustained campaign for some years.

Norman said the group had evidence that dossiers - including photographs, vehicle registrations and home addresses - had been compiled on dozens of staff and supporters.

"We have discovered that Greenpeace has been subject to systematic highly intrusive investigations by Thompson & Clark [Investigations] and people working for them," Norman said.

Make no mistake, the oil and gas industry will stop at nothing to get at our precious resources. Not only would it in most cases be better off if we left the oil in the ground, New Zealand receives a pittance of what our resources are actually worth as way of remuneration.

The fact that Greenpeace NZ has Thompson & Clark's spying dossier’s will mean this is a pretty cut and dry case. The oil giants involved in this illegal activity should really be shitting themselves, because this could have wider legal ramifications for their destructive industries.

A statement of claim alleges that, "since at least 2014, Thompson & Clark has been engaged by Statoil ASA, a multinational oil and gas company with its headquarters in Norway, and Anadarko Petroleum, an American oil and gas company, to provide intelligence about Greenpeace and its operations".

Approached for comment, a staff member of Thompson & Clark said that the directors Gavin Clark and Nicholas Thompson were currently unavailable.

Requests for comment have been sent to Statoil and Anadarko.

This will be huge international news and mean the Texas and Norway based oil and gas companies could face a hefty penalty for their illegal spying in New Zealand.

In my opinion this is not only a breach of New Zealand’s privacy laws, it’s also a breach of our espionage law because it prejudices the security and defence of New Zealand.

However I doubt that the courts will view it the same way, because they don’t see Greenpeace as a defender of New Zealand against unscrupulous big business interests.