Earlier this year, I was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon. This was in response to revelations in the NZ Herald that the police have seized nearly $150 million worth of homes, cars, boats, cash, jewellery and other valuables under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act. When the legislation was passed in December 2009, the Government said the seizures would be used to fund additional alcohol and drug treatment for criminal offenders. Four years later, no money has been made available.
RadioNZ wanted to interview the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, to ask her why none of the money had been passed on. She wasn’t available so they interviewed me instead. After the interview, the producer came up to me and said that someone from Judith Collins’ office had made it very clear to them that, even though she was not available, Collins did not want them to talk to me. When the producer asked her why, Collins said it was because she didn’t approve of articles I had edited on wikipedia about the New Zealand justice system.
Banned from editing Wikipedia
I found it hard to believe that Judith Collins would really be concerned about anything on wikipedia – until I found edits being made by someone calling herself JC press sec. Most editors on wikipedia use pseudonyms – but ‘JC press sec’ – that was just too obvious. Then there’s Clarke43. Whoever he (or she) is, Clarke43 has also done a lot of editing on the Judith Collins page on wikipedia and has systematically deleted much of the material I contributed to other articles. On a personal discussion page (known as a Talk page) Clarke43 wrote: “I don’t feel for the sake of anyone who uses wikipedia that we can leave some of these pages in the state they are in now.” Is Judith Collins using taxpayers’ money to get her staff to edit wikipedia articles to her liking?
Then I got banned from editing wikipedia altogether. Shortly after that most of the pages that I had contributed to were shredded. An article I wrote on Legal Aid in New Zealand was shortened from this comprehensive version to this short stub. A detailed article on the Sensible Sentencing Trust and its links with National and the Act Party was shortened from this to this. Substantial cuts have also been made to articles about the New Zealand Police, the Department of Corrections, the Independent Police Conduct Authority, the Government Communication Security Bureau, Crime in New Zealand, Corruption in New Zealand, the Ministry of Justice, the Accident Compensation Corporation and David Bain. For obvious reasons, these are all articles that Judith Collins might have an interest in.
Banned by prison manager
It looks like someone is trying to shut me up. Even the manager at Rimutaka prison is having a go. Here’s the story. I’ve been going into Rimutaka prison for 15 years. Normally when I have to see an inmate, I make an appointment and then show my driver’s licence at the gatehouse. About three months ago, one of the officers on duty commented that because I was a regular visitor, I should apply for a Special Visitor’s pass. So I did.
This should have been a routine matter. But to my surprise, about six weeks later I received a letter from Chris Burns, the Prison Manager. He said my application for the Special Visitors ID was declined because of a story which appeared in the Upper Hutt Leader in which I criticized the Department for wasting $13 million on cell phone blocking technology. The article pointed out that the number of cell phones confiscated from prisoners had more than doubled since the technology was installed. It contained this brief quote: “Drug and alcohol counsellor Roger Brooking, who helps inmates at Wellington prisons, said jamming technology had not stopped prisoners from using cellphones in prison and described the project as a ‘failed strategy’.”
I thought New Zealanders had freedom of speech – according to the Bill of Rights we do. But Judith Collins and Chris Burns don’t seem to think so. Mr Burns declined my application for being “critical of the way the Department operates in regard to stopping prisoners using cell phones in prison”. How bizarre. But guess what. Information about the failure of the cell phone blocking technology was then deleted from the wikipedia page about the Corrections Department. This is called censorship!
But what I really want to know is – how does Judith Collins know what I’m doing on wikipedia? I don’t use my real name – I use a pseudonym. Does that mean the GCSB is watching me? No that’s illegal – and surely the GCSB would never break the law. Yeah right!
Join the discussion at The Standard: Collins sanitising wikipedia