Wikipedia pages about David Bain, Mark Lundy, Teina Pora, Scott Watson – and Corruption in New Zealand have been ‘neutralised’ by editors with a hidden agenda.
It all began in July last year, under the headline, Critic claims censorship on Collins Wiki, when the Dominion Post reported that Judith Collins’ press secretary had been involved in editing the Wikipedia page about her boss. The NZ Herald was more concerned about cuts made by Collins’ secretary to the page about David Bain: Minister defends cutting Bain paragraphs on Wikipedia . Now cuts have been made to the wikipedia pages about Teina Pora, Mark Lundy, Scott Watson and Corruption in New Zealand.
On the page about Mark Lundy this entirely factual information was deleted: “Lundy continued to maintain his innocence and in June 2013 appealed to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. Lundy served thirteen years in prison and is now free on bail.”
On the page about Scott Watson, someone deleted information about a two masted ketch that was under suspicion at the time of the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, including this statement: “Former detective Mike Chappell, who worked on the case, later claimed officers had been told not to follow up sightings of the two-masted ketch.”
Information about a key witness in the trial has also been cut. ‘Witness A’, who had been in prison with Watson claimed in court that Watson had admitted the murders. A Wiki editor then deleted this crucial part of the story: “A year later, witness A contacted the Weekend Herald to say his evidence given under oath was ‘nothing more than an act’. He said he was being threatened by gang members in prison; he was coming up for parole and was put under pressure by police to testify and ‘I agreed on the basis that my life was getting threatened’.”
The IPCA’s criticisms of the police investigation into the Watson case were also removed.
On the page about Teina Pora, an editor calling himself Clarke43 has removed this: “Assistant Police Commissioner, Malcolm Burgess, said police would continue to cooperate fully with any lawful requests made for information in relation to the case. However, Pora’s lawyer Jonathan Krebs said the police had been unco-operative and for months had been refusing to supply information he had been seeking. Expressing his frustration with the lack of co-operation from police, Krebs said: “(Pora’s) still only in his mid to late 30s, and it’s simply a gross miscarriage of justice.”
A number of editors tried to have Pora’s entire page deleted.
The hidden agenda
When these issues arose last year, the NZ Herald asked Who is Clarke43? and expressed concerns that Wikipedia was being manipulated by certain individuals with a hidden agenda. The Herald asked:
“How can Wikipedia users be assured that the fingerprints of interested parties are not all over the online encyclopaedia?”
This is a fair question, all the more pertinent now that substantial cuts have also been made to the page about Corruption in New Zealand. Information criticising the police for their growing use of illegal search warrants was deleted – including details about the Te Urewera raids, the raid on Kim Dotcom and the illegal tactics used by police in the Red Devils case in Nelson. This quote from an editorial in the NZ Herald was also removed:
“Police came under intense scrutiny after a series of high-profile raids in which the courts rejected evidence obtained illegally by police and the Herald criticised their lack of understanding of the law. It said the number of cases involved made it plain that these are not isolated examples of specific operations being botched: there is a systemic problem which must be addressed if the public is to have confidence in the New Zealand Police. Overzealous officers must be reined in to stop their impropriety and apparent disregard for the Bill of Rights.”
It seems that virtually any information which is critical of the New Zealand police or suggests the possibility of a miscarriage of justice is being deleted. This is all in the domain of Justice Minister, Judith Collins, who has already admitted to sanitising the Wikipedia page about David Bain
Is there a hidden agenda underlying the editing of these pages on wikipedia? I leave the reader to decide – but that will be difficult if the details have been deleted.