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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 12. 1966.

Commission report no comfort

Commission report no comfort

As Expected, the commission of enquiry's report on the Auckland University "spy" affair whitewashed all the important figures and left the students to carry the blame.

The report is illogical, weak and unconvincing. Worse, it raises the very doubts which it was supposed to quiet.

We do not accept that all the actions of Auckland students were either sensible or necessary—and we have already made this clear. But there are others equally deserving of censure.

We do not accept that the Auckland security agent, Mr. D. Godfrey, should be allowed to escape censure for his ineptitude and the pathetic glory which he found in his job.

And, above all, we completely reject Brigadier Gilbert's claim that the Security service acted properly throughout Mr. Godfrey's activities, exposure and downfall.

The Brigadier, in remarks endorsed by the commission of enquiry, said "if something which was clearly of Security interest was revealed or becomes known to one of our officers who is taking courses he will be expected to report on it, in the same way as, for example, a policeman, if he saw an offence being committed, would be required to take some action."

This view, it appears, will govern the future conduct of Security officers attending universities for education.

If this is to be the approach the Security service takes, then it can expect to have the Godfrey affair repeated again and again— probably more viciously.

For the logical flaw in the Brigadier's comparison is the very crux of the whole matter.

The Security service is not making reports on breaches of the law, on offences against statutes in the way that the Brigadier's hypothetical "policeman" is doing.

It is interested in views, in opinions, in "reliability"—subjective impressions which are not subject to the adjudication of a court or the knowledge or appeal of the person being judged.

The commission was forced by the weight of evidence to concede the main points of the student protesters—that the security police through Mr. Godfrey had made inquiries on campus, had recruited personnel, and had kept campus activities under general surveillance.

It even went so far as to admit that these activities should not be carried out by a security person posing as a student.

Why, then, could it not see that the real fear of students remains?

There can be no reasonable objection to officers of security intelligence studying at university. But, as we have said before, our confidence in the good faith of the Security service has been broken—and neither the Brigadier nor the commission's report has done anything to restore it.—H.B.R.