In which a former confidant of Cameron Slater's claims he was paid to commit a hack of The Standard blogsite; police are investigating

I can't really wax lyrical about the investigation I produced for The Nation into allegations by a 27 year-old IT consultant called Ben Rachinger, that he was paid by blogger Cameron Slater to hack into The Standard.

Rachinger says he strung Slater along for some time before ultimately not doing the hack.

Lisa Owen and I saw bank statements, thousands of texts and other documents and spoke to Rachinger at length on numerous occasions to investigate claims that first appeared online - in posts by Rachinger himself - back in April.

The legal care taken around a story like this is significant, so I can't offer much more in the way of back story. Rachinger is not without fault, but we found him credible in this story and the proof he offered compelling.

Slater however denies the claims, says Rachinger is lying and that we have fallen for it. He says he does not break the law.

So here's our report that ran on TV3. I invite you to take 10 minutes to watch.

Comments (20)

by Anne on June 06, 2015
Anne

I think its time that someone, somewhere, did something about Cameron Slater. He is unstable and is causing much trouble and angst with his outbursts and false accusations. A few years ago I saw an absolutely disgusting post by Slater against a person I happened to know. His claims were totally untrue. I haven't visited his website since.

Its relatively easy to gauge who is lying and who isn't and Rachinger, in my view, is not lying. By his own admission he has been foolish in the past, but he doesn't come across as a liar. Indeed, he has been consistent about what happened right from the start.


does not strike me as a liar. 

by Anne on June 06, 2015
Anne

Oh dear, please ignore bottom line. Must learn to preview.

by Frank Macskasy on June 07, 2015
Frank Macskasy

Excellent investigative journalism, Tim. Job well done by you and your team.

It will be interesting to see if this lands in Court. On the surface, there appears to be a prima facie case for attempting to procure a criminal act.

 

by Nick Gibbs on June 07, 2015
Nick Gibbs

Personally I'd be surprised if this went anywhere legally. Slater is a disingenuous buffoon but he annoying only to those who read blogs, which not a huge percentage of the population. Meanwhile police have limited resources and I can't see them really wanting to spend days and days investigating and prosecuting two attention seeking idiots - namely Slater and Rachinger.

by Alan Johnstone on June 07, 2015
Alan Johnstone

The payments of cash certainly suggest the rendering of a service.

I hope Rachinger correctly charged GST and included them on his tax return for last year

by Lynn Prentice on June 07, 2015
Lynn Prentice

Nick.

The real question is if the sections in the Crimes Act about prosecuting people conspiring to, attempting to, and actually doing cracks into computer systems are worth the paper they are written on.

So far, they appear to only any effect if they upset John Key or National.

Hager has had his house turned over, his computers and papers seized and his work disrupted for reporting on hacked emails. Whereas Cameron Slater who received stolen emails, files and documents which he "reported" on (actually largely lied about as far as I can see). From what I have heard he apparently hasn't been questioned except in a cursory way by the police.

The police also apparently stopped even working on the complaint until they realized how bad that looked after they grabbed Hager's computers.

Perhaps you can explain the difference in the police treatment of these two cases?

Perhaps you could also explain why you think that Cameron Slater should be treated differently to any other criminal?

by Katharine Moody on June 07, 2015
Katharine Moody

That was an intersting story on the show - but the real eye-opener for me was the debate between the Gen Rents and the Boomers.  My goodness - how utterly embarrassing for my generation .. perhaps you were decidedly intentional to put up Michelle Boag and Tau Henare as representative of babyboomers because you knew how they would respond .. but really, all I could think to was - my god - how representative of my generation are these people? Ignore the evidence, scream insults across the floor at young intelligence, take every opportunity to denigrate and humiliate them. Un-bloody-believable. No wonder our youth have an imbedded disdain for politics, as both these individuals are/have been intimately involved in the political elite class. Sickening, truly sickening, that attitudes such as theirs have ANY amount of power/influence .. let alone the actual power/influence they have had up until now. I am appalled (but I assume you'd have guessed that by now, Tim).

Thank you for well and truly outing these wretched members of our society.

by Nick Gibbs on June 07, 2015
Nick Gibbs

I don't think Slater is being treated differently. Ask almost any victim of burglary, the police are always slow to react and offer only token assistance, even in cases where property owners know who did the crime and where their property is. It's just not a priority.

Nor are the police quick to act on breaches of the electoral act. Every year it's "Labour did this, Nats did that". The police might huff and puff for a few days to make it look like they care but the result is always the same - no charges laid.

As for Hagar, while he has been inconvenienced by the seizure of his computers, he hasn't been charged with anything and I don't expect he will be. Same as Slater.

 

by Andrew R on June 07, 2015
Andrew R

Nick. Nor would I expect Hager to be charged with anything.  The Police raided his place to find evidence about the third person, not to find evidence on Hager.

I think the real story is that the police raided Hager in an attempt to intimidate, just like they did to the msm over the tea pot tapes.  Their take-home message -- don't piss off our pm.

by william blake on June 07, 2015
william blake

Is there a difference between a journalist following up on a whistleblower and then having his computers and documents seized to find out who the whistleblower/hacker is

and a non journalist paying a hacker to find some dirt on someone?

yes there is.

one is an attack on the freedom of the press and the other is unethical tabloid sleaze.

by Nick Gibbs on June 07, 2015
Nick Gibbs

@William and Andrew

Its also a fact that Hagar received stolen property and that would be uncontested in court. Yet we see no charges laid and I don't expect to. The police will tell Slater its a matter for the civil courts. Likewise Slater won't be charged over this. Lynn Prentice could sue but I doubt he'd get far in court either.

 

by mudfish on June 08, 2015
mudfish

Hang on Nick,

Received stolen property? (your "fact" that would be "uncontested"). Publicised information obtained illegally by a third party more like, otherwise everyone who's bought the book has "received" it too - are they equally culpable?...Has Hagar done anything illegal? Not if what's published is true - and as you say, tested as a civil not a criminal matter so no wonder the police aren't interested in taking it anywhere.

Frank's made the point already, it will be interesting to see where this goes, aside from shredding the beef hooked reputation further. 

by Andrew Geddis on June 08, 2015
Andrew Geddis

Its also a fact that Hagar received stolen property and that would be uncontested in court.

That fact would be very strongly contested in court. See the Court of Appeal in R v Dixon at [36]:

In light of the absence of any specific reference to digital files in the statutory definition, the significant body of case law (which, as mentioned, includes decisions at the highest level in other Commonwealth jurisdictions) and the important policy factors underlying those decisions, we consider that this Court should not depart from the orthodox approach. We therefore hold that information, including digital data (whether confidential or not), is not property for the purposes of s 2 of the Crimes Act.

 

 

 

by Lee Churchman on June 08, 2015
Lee Churchman

I wonder how much of this is Cam Slater drinking his own Kool-Aid.

I mean: everyone knows that the right's favoured rhetorical ploy in recent years is to accuse their opponents of what they are doing as a means of "inoculation" (IIRC that is the right word), so of course Slater et. al. would accuse their opponents of the sort of things detailed in Dirty Politics. Perhaps, though, he ow actually believes it, after being hacked. 

Mind you, there are plenty of tea partiers who sincerely believe that Obama is secretly pursuing "socialism for the rich" and that you should vote for the GOP in order to put an end to the Obama tyranny.

by Nick Gibbs on June 08, 2015
Nick Gibbs

@Andrew,

Thanks for clarifying that. Obviously the law is a little more complex in this area than I thought (you'll be pleased to know am not a law graduate of Otago, or indeed anywhere). I do think it reinforces my argument that the police won't pursue this vigorously as the outcome is uncertain and the result will probably please nobody.

by Andrew Geddis on June 08, 2015
Andrew Geddis

@Nick,

You misunderstand. My point is that Nicky Hager didn't receive stolen property (contrary to what you said would be uncontested). This fact, however, has nothing to do with the allegations against Slater. He's being investigated for inciting or procuring Ben Rachinger to access a computer system without authorisation.

Point being - there is a possible crime that Slater may have committed (assuming Rachinger's account is accurate). There is, however, no possible crime that Hager has committed ... he was simply a witness who may have had evidence that would have revealed the identity of the individual calling himself Rawshark ... who in turn may have committed the crime that Slater (allegedly) hired Rachinger to commit.

by Nick Gibbs on June 09, 2015
Nick Gibbs

@Andrew

I still misunderstand. It seems clear to me Hagar received and made use of material he knew didn't belong to the person who gave it to him. That seems dodgy to me, but if you say it's not against the law then I'm sure you're right. I still don't expect charges to be laid in either case. 

Do you?

 

by Andrew Geddis on June 09, 2015
Andrew Geddis

@Nick,

There will be no charges against Hager because he hasn't breached any criminal prohibition, full stop. There may be charges against Slater, depending on what evidence the Police turn up to support Rachinger's allegations and whether they believe the case meets the Solicitor General's prosecutorial guidelines. 

by Tim Watkin on June 10, 2015
Tim Watkin

Deep Red, I've deleted your link because it goes to a place (both literally and metaphorically) that I'm not prepared to go. In short, an attempt to intimidate journalists has been seen off by (ultimately) the collective decency of the (often-maligned) mainstream media and most of those online. End of.

Thanks for everyone's comments on the track. And thanks for watching it. I hope you encourage others to watch it too. Given our research prior I was confident when the story went to air that it was accurate; the reaction since has only served to reinforce that.

by Tim Watkin on June 10, 2015
Tim Watkin

Andrew, is there much precedent on that section of the Crimes Act? Are many people charged under it and what sort of sentences do they get?

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