NZ 'coal mole' mines eco-activists for PR information


Activist author Nicky Hager says security advisers to a state-owned business – Solid Energy – paid a student spy to infiltrate eco-protest group for $400 a month; the result is an embarrassing media disaster as everyone’s dirty laundry gets washed in public.
After the PRINZ conference, there was me thinking the land of the long white cloud was somewhat unsullied by the usual PR smog. Alas, a request for an interview by an NZ journo, Marta Steeman, alerted me to this case of ‘information obtained by subterfuge’ that echoes the one involving Helwett Packard’s CEO Patty Dunn earlier this year. Basically, this hard-up student pretends to be an activist to find out more on legal discussions, strategies and communications documents that the Save Happy Valley Coalition is using. And it’s not their only form of ‘guerilla tactic’ either; human shields, tying themselves to railtracks and allegedly defacing property, are others cited. Obviously Solid Energy don’t scrub up so clean themselves; its CEO Dr Don Elder says the work by the security team (Thompson and Clark) is completely legal, moral and ethical; well, deploying undercover espionage tactics says a lot about your definition of ethical doesn’t it? Quizzed about his role in the affair, Ryan initially said he knew nothing about it, then immediately recanted when shown proof of evidence. Similarly, the private dicks did the same…”outrageous allegation…don’t know what you’re talking about.” One day later, they were issuing tightly prepared statements that metaphorically ‘took the fifth’.

Ryan.jpgRyan Paterson-Rouse sold his soul in his role as a coal mole.

And you know how the whole affair came to light? A computer malfunction at the security firm bounced emails back to the SHVC personnel, clearly revealing links to Gavin Clark, Nicky cleverly sleuthed. From Doc Martens to Dr Nortons anyone, Bueller, Bueller?

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