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Salient Special Issue, April 17, 1969.

Security Agent on Campus

Security Agent on Campus

An officer in the Security Service has attempted to recruit university students to report on the activities of the Committee on Vietnam and other organisations.

The first approach was made to a university student before the academic year began.

The second approach is fully substantiated.

The officer, Mr Rex J. Banks, made a telephone call to a third-year student at Victoria University in the first week of the university term.

The two were formerly students at St. Pat's, Silverstream, together.

The student, who declined to reveal his name, said that during the conversation Mr Banks identified himself as a member of the Security Service.

Mr Banks then suggested to the student that he join certain organisations, such as the Committee on Vietnam, and "report" on their activities for the Security Service.

Mr Banks stated that he was not asking the student to report on organisations within the university.

The student immediately refused.

He was then advised by Mr Banks to "forget the conversation ever took place."

The student concerned contacted the National Affairs Officer of the Victoria University Students' Association, Mr Peter Cullen, and discussed the matter with him.

Mr Cullen, acting without the knowledge of his informant, gave a rough outline of the situation to Messrs Wilde and Logan of Salient.

He gave little information which would lead to the identification of any persons involved.

The following morning, Mr Cullen advised Mr Logan that the story he had told him was a "pack of lies."

Rex Banks

Rex Banks

He made a comment to the same effect to Mr Wilde later that day.

Three days later he told Mr Wilde he would be in a position to give him "all the names you require" within a "few days."

The information was not made available to Salient by the time Easter Council of NZUSA was convened at Christchurch.

It is understood from delegates to the council that the matter was raised at Constituents Commission.

It was discussed "in committee" however.

On the Wednesday April 19th, the President of the Victoria University Students' Association, Mr Gerard Curry, resolved to arrange a meeting with the director of the Security Service, Brigadier H.E.Gilbert.

"I wanted to obtain an assurance from Brigadier Gilbert that if there were any security agents on campus, they would be withdrawn," Gerard told Salient.

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He was to arrange this meeting when the President of NZUSA, Mr Peter Rosier returned from overseas.

Last Monday, April 14th, Mr Cullen was interviewed by the editor of Salient, Mr Wilde, who accused him of acting irresponsibly in his capacity as a student representative on Executive.

At this stage Salient was aware of approximately 45 people who had learned of the situation from Mr Cullen, either first-hand, or in some cases second-hand.

Mr Cullen returned to an Executive meeting in progress and made a statement 'in committee'.

In view of the increasing urgency of the situation, Mr Curry decided to go ahead alone with his plan of seeing Brigadier Gilbert.

On the afternoon of Wednesday April 16th, Mr Curry had a meeting with a senior member of the staff at Security.

On the same day, Salient received more than 15 inquiries from the news media seeking confirmation of rumours about the security service.

This morning, the New Zealand Herald printed a brief story about the rumours.

The Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University, Dr D.B.C. Taylor, asked to comment late last night, said, "This sort of activity in the university is quite inconsistent with the basis principles of a university."

It was decided that no advantage would accrue from delaying publication in the hope of Mr Curry securing commitment from Security Service so a special issue of Salient was authorised.

The name of the student contacted by Mr Banks has been withheld for it would involve him in unnecessary publicity and perhaps prejudice his future career. The name of a person associated with the Security Service, who assisted in the recruitment of Mr Banks (among others) has also been withheld. This is because he has a son at University who, to the best of our knowledge is merely embarrassed by the actions of his father; and it is similarly considered undesirable to expose him to publicity.