SFO Inclusion Calls Appear To Fail

by Editor on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 — 10:00 PM

Labour argued strongly tonight to include the Serious Fraud Office in the Search and Surveillance Bill, but apparently to no avail.

During the committee stage debate, Labour MP David Parker argued it was an anomaly that the Serious Fraud Office did not have to go to the court to get a warrant to seize documents, and the only reason the SFO was not included in the bill was when the bill was drafted it was not envisaged that the SFO would still exist.

The previous Labour government planned to disband the SFO and roll its functions into the police.

National MP Simon Bridges said MPs from all sides of the House were keen from the beginning of the process not to extend or give new powers to any authority or the state.

There was a strong argument for the retention of the SFO’s powers to obtain documents as they were dealing with sophisticated white collar criminals, he said.

Labour MP Phil Goff said it would be good if National and Labour could agree on the bill as it was about fundamental rights of individuals and powers of the state.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the SFO would be asked to report to Parliament on the use of its powers, but the bill had to pass otherwise all covert police operations would have to cease.

It did not appear that Collins or other National MPs were swayed by the argument to include the SFO in the legislation.

The House was interrupted at 10pm as MPs were debating part three of the bill.

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