He would say that, wouldn't he! After all, he is one of those who have the most to lose from the truth coming out. Hager knew that the e-mails given to him, by whatever means they were obtained, were not his to use. But he used them anyway. We still reckon that there is a prima facie case against him under either S 228(a) or S228(b) of the Crimes Act:
Dishonestly taking or using document
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,—
(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.
Compare: 1961 No 43 s 229A
Section 228: substituted, on 1 October 2003, by section 15 of the Crimes Amendment Act 2003 (2003 No 39).
Let's go over the elements one by one. Hager is, by profession, a writer. Hager wrote a book based on the e-mails. Therefore he had "intent to obtain pecuniary advantage or valuable consideration".
He "dishonestly and without claim of right" obtained Brash's e-mails - private, personal documents.
He "dishonestly and without claim of right" used the e-mails as the basis for a book.
It's hard to imagine a clearer case, and we are not even legally trained!
So yes, little wonder Hager thinks Brash's allegations against the Police are "incredible". Unfortunately for Hager, there is a growing body of opinion which disagrees with him. We will most certainly be writing to Auckland assistant commissioner Steve Shortland. We urge others to do likewise. If nothing else, it would be an affront to justice were Hager to walk away from this scot-free.