Ian Wishart seems to be getting his retaliation in first this morning, slinging off, ironically, at "all those mentally-challenged commenters on other blogs who resort to ad hominem attacks on myself or Investigate." I'll try and be a little more measured.
I don't find it hard to believe that Wishart would make reckless claims, because I've personally studied one Investigate story in which he made allegations against an individual (as part of an alleged feminist-communist-government conspiracy) that were quite simply baseless and slapdash - and had no success in prompting an acknowledgement, let alone an apology from him.
It should also be noted that some of the material isn't new: Police Commissioner Howard Broad confirmed on Morning Report today that there had been an investigation into something resembling the most incendiary allegation in Investigate - that of "a child sex, bondage and bestiality ring operating in Dunedin in 1984 run by the father of a police officer and attended by at least one Labour cabinet minister" - that had been concluded without proving that allegation.
It's not hard to conceive that senior MPs would have heard details of these and other allegations, either in an official capacity or from constituents who have brought them forward. This is not the same thing as the allegations being true. MPs' offices field some extraordinary claims from members of the public.
Wishart alleges that Michael Cullen and David Benson Pope "helped run damage control" control over the sex ring claims and that "current Labour coalition MPs Pete Hodgson, Tim Barnett, George Hawkins and Matt Robson" (the "current" part will come as a surprise to Robson) were briefed on same. He has made the odd, but unsurprising, decision to feature Cullen on the cover of the magazine that makes all the claims.
Other material comes from former police sergeant Tom Lewis, whose book Coverups & Copouts: NZ Police, the shocking truth, has failed to excite the news media since its publication in 1998, and has been championed by our occasional, troubled commenter Dad4Justice, and on grievance-driven websites like this one. It was also namechecked by Ron Mark in the Parliamentary debate that followed the release of the Bazley Report.
Joe Karam, who, whatever good work he has done on the case of David Bain, is an excitable personality (try asking a journalist who has written a story about him and received his subsequent communications) waded into the case with some gusto on Morning Report today.
I presume the allegations are also not unknown to some working journalists, especially those on the Otago Daily Times. It might be helpful if they were to shed some light.
But Wishart has had one allegation confirmed by Police Commissioner Howard Broad. In Wishart's words:
Instead, the savvy reader will notice that Broad has now confirmed 1) that a bestiality video was definitely screened at a police party, and 2) that Broad felt so intimidated by the prevailing police culture in Dunedin at the time that he didn't do anything about this criminal act.
Or as the official police statement puts it:
The Commissioner confirmed that a Police Rugby Club fund raising party was held at his place around 1981. About 100 people turned up. Old rugby films were shown in the lounge. Late in the evening while he was elsewhere in the house someone put a pornographic film containing bestiality on the projector.
Mr Broad says that when he was told about it he was annoyed and irritated and said so to members of the Police Rugby club present.
"The fact that I didn't take any further action probably underscores the standards applying at that time. Twenty five years on it is obviously a source of embarrassment having regard to my current position and the context of police leadership today.
Named police officers at the same party have come forward to support Broad's account; Wishart has an unnamed former officer who claims "He was there, reveling in the video. He loved it."
We have lately discovered some unhappy things about police culture in the 1980s, and for that reason it's hard to summarily dismiss further allegations with respect to that culture. But we shouldn't place much weight on the oft-voiced claim that if no one has sued Wishart, then everything he says must be true. Entering litigation is not a pleasant thing, and it may simply be the case that Wishart is not worth suing.
Alaso, a comment on Kiwiblog today says this:
A large part of the later allegations appear to be based on the testomy of a twice convicted killer. The killer claims to have been threatened with having a friend raped/killed by a policeman to confess the first time and then railroaded by police to cover up a police sanctioned murder the second time.
Either the corruption is very serious or the corruption is minor and extended fantastically by a fantasist.
If any readers have useful observations on these matters, make them. But we will moderate, and we will delete posts deemed reckless or defamatory.
Oddly enough, I had just finished watching, The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard, a remarkable 1968 Granada documentary about Scientology (featuring a rare interview with L. Ron Hubbard) when I came across this story about BBC reporter John Sweeney losing the plot in the course of an investigation into the Church of Scientology. The YouTube clip posted by the Scientologists is here, and the clip released in response by the BBC (to demonstrate the prior aggressive behaviour by a church official) is here. Also, Sweeney apologising after the incident, and Sweeney slagging off the BBC.
For something completely different, check out OurTube for some new Flight of the Conchords stuff.
And, finally, it appears that Public Address is the only finalist site in all the NetGuide Awards which can claim to be fully HTML and CSS-compliant. More comment here. And we bathe, thanks to CactusLab, in web standards virtue …