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Hager files human rights case against bank

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/02/2017

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager has filed a human rights claim against Westpac over its decision to give police his account details, his lawyer says.

The Privacy Commissioner this week found the bank breached Hager's privacy when it gave police access to 10 months of his accounts as part of an investigation without asking for a warrant.

But the commission's rulings are not binding, and Hager's lawyer, Felix Geiringer, on Thursday said he had filed a case with the Human Rights Review Tribunal to get an enforceable order.

"He has asked Westpac to acknowledge that it breached his rights. Despite the Privacy Commissioner's ruling, it has not been prepared to do that," Mr Geiringer said.

A spokeswoman for Westpac confirmed that was the case and said the bank had no further comment to add.

Mr Geiringer said Hager would not only ask for an order ensuring Westpac couldn't give its customers bank transaction data to the police without a warrant, but would also ask for an order requiring the bank to notify anyone whose privacy may have been breached.

In December, a court found a 10-hour search of Hager's Wellington home in October 2014 was illegal because police had not told the court they were conducting a "media search" when they applied for a warrant.

The search took place in the aftermath of the release of his book Dirty Politics, which was based on information taken from WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater's emails and online communications.

The information was given to Hager by an anonymous hacker and the search was part of a police investigation to identify that person.

In the lead-up to the search of Hager's home, police requested more than 10 months of his bank transactions without a warrant.

A separate claim by Hager against the police is still before the High Court.

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