Operation 8: Police Informants

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Covert informant identified

From an analysis of Operation 8 documents there were, as far as I can determine, just three or four registered and casual informants who provided information to the Police about the wananga in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007. So far just one of those informants has definitely been identified and in this article his identity is revealed. Work continues to discover the identities of the others.

The Importance of HUMINT (Human Intelligence)
Undercover agents, spies and informants

The Police stated in their affidavits seeking search warrants and interception warrants that they were not able to infiltrate an undercover agent into the wananga.

Given the extent of the information gathering operation, and the huge resources allocated to it, the number of informants and the quantity of informant information was quite small. They got some HUMINT from the small number of informants in Wellington and Auckland and virtually nothing from within Ngai Tuhoe. One of the main reasons for the incompleteness of their information and the deeply flawed analysis of that information, apart from Police incompetence, was their lack of reliable HUMINT.

Despite the mass of electronic and other information they produced they had absolutely no way of knowing what Taame Iti and the others were thinking, what was in their minds, what they were planning, and whether or not they intended to act as the Police thought they would, despite all of their intercepted revolutionary korero. In trying to predict human intentions HUMINT is absolutely necessary.

The problem is that the less we know about the minds of others the more we use our own minds to fill in the blanks. As the context in which you’re trying to understand another mind becomes more ambiguous the influence of your own perspective increases.

The HUMINT they had from their informants was sparse and unreliable. If they had not deliberately excluded Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and his network of Maori liaison officers from Operation 8 the HUMINT available to them would have totally altered their perceptions and conclusions. I have reached my own conclusion that they didn’t want their perceptions and conclusions altered by the facts.

Information gathering phases

In analysing the so called intelligence operation that eventually led to the armed paramilitary assault on Ruatoki I have divided it into four phases. The phases are convenient for determining when various police informants were active, and in an ongoing investigation to discover their identities. The phases are:

Phase 1 – From February to May 2006, during which the Police followed serial Police antagonist Jamie Lockett and his sometime employer, associate and millionaire businessman John Murphy to Waitangi, noted their new found sympathy with Maori aspirations and that they had talked with Taame Iti, monitored them at Murphy’s home in Remuera in Auckland, came to believe that Lockett at least was involved in some sort of revolutionary plot, conducted surveillance on them and a number of right wing Pakeha individuals, then switched their attention to Taame Iti and his wananga in the Urewera.

Phase 2 – From June to August 2006. Early in June two police officers travelled to the Urewera to try to locate training camps. During this time the police conducted intensive surveillance on Jamie Lockett and John Murphy in Auckland and some surveillance on Taame Iti at Taneatua and Ruatoki.

Phase 3 – From September 2006 to January 2007. On 6 September 2006 the Police watched Lockett buying bush gear and boots in Auckland and on 8 September they followed him as far as Taneatua as he made his way to the first of several wananga he attended. This triggered on 15 September the first of numerous call data warrants which were used by the Police to obtain telephone metadata and text messages dating back to 1 March 2006. In the first place they focused on Taame Iti, John Murphy and Jamie Lockett. Over the next few months they obtained call data warrants to obtain telephone information on most of the people that those three called. This was the start of a massive network building and profiling exercise. 15 September was effectively the date when the nationwide search for a terrorist network began.

Phase 4 – From February 2007 onwards. 22 February saw the first of multiple interception warrants used to place bugs in houses and cars, to video people at the wananga and elsewhere, and to place interception devices on computer servers (with the assistance of internet providers). Telephone call data warrants continued. Having built the basis of their terrorist network through network analysis the Police then concentrated on finding evidence of their guilt. Search and seizure and arrest warrants were not used until 15 October 2007. Those “termination” warrants were also used to try to find computer and documentary evidence of a nationwide terrorist plot.

As the information gathering moved through from Phase 1 to Phase 4 emphasis shifted from physical surveillance and informant information to more and more electronic surveillance. However physical surveillance by following people on foot and in cars continued throughout all four phases.

An Interview

Sometime in Phase 1 or Phase 2 a person was interviewed about activists and their attitudes and beliefs. That took place early in the Operation and does not appear to have greatly influenced the outcome although it was used consistently in affidavits used to obtain multiple warrants from the District Court.

Urewera Informant(s)

In Phase 2 and/or Phase 3 an informant provided some information about Taame Iti and another provided the dates of wananga at the end of 2006. They may well have been the same person. In both cases the information seemed to stop by about January 2007. That person may have been someone who attended just a few wananga, or who was close to someone who attended a few wananga.

Wellington Informant(s)

In Phase 3 some information was provided by an informant (or informants) in Wellington. That information related specifically to the Wellington activists who attended the wananga in 2006 and 2007. The most likely person was Rob Gilchrist who was exposed as a Police informant in December 2008.  However his handler was Detective Peter Gilroy of Christchurch and although Gilchrist did spy extensively on activists in Wellington and Auckland he was probably not working directly to Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe who headed up the Operation 8 team at Harlech House in Auckland. He was not noticed by any of the accused to be particularly interested in their activities in the Urewera.

Pascoe would have had access to the Police intelligence database of information about the Wellington activists built up over many years. That database would have included a large trove provided by Gilchrist during his many years as an informant. In the High Court in February 2012 Pascoe obfuscated when asked about any relationship he might have had with Gilchrist or whether he had access to Gilchrist’s information. He didn’t say “No” and tried not to say “Yes”.

The Wellington activists have not been able to identify anyone else who might have been informing on them. Yet.

An Auckland Informant – Keith Madden

Throughout all four phases the Police used at least one informant in Auckland, his usefulness declining as the information gathering exercise became more focused on technological information, and ceasing after he was uncovered as an informant. He was Keith Madden. He has also been known by a number of aliases. This is his story.

Madden was a long-time associate of both John Murphy and Jamie Lockett but was closer to Murphy. He spent quite a bit of time at Murphy’s house in Remuera. Lockett was also often there and lived there for a while. Madden is an intelligent man who was always in the money and had cars and houses. Until the bad times including some failed deals. In early 2006 he had serious criminal charges hanging over him and that was probably the lever the Police used to turn him into an informant.

That immediately made him an unreliable source of information. Informants, just as much as intelligence officers, need to be vetted and verified as honest and reliable, and objective observers. An informant under duress, or seeking to minimise a possible prison term, will tend to tell his handlers what they want to hear.

Whereas Jamie Lockett is extremely wary of sharing information after years of Police surveillance John Murphy tends to run off at the mouth, to elaborate, embellish and exaggerate. Lockett told Madden nothing and recalls that Madden never really tried to get any information out of him. Murphy was an easier mark and Madden almost certainly got most of his information from Murphy.

That made the Police “Informant Information” doubly unreliable. Yet it was that information that set Operation 8 in motion.

By late May 2006 the Police had heard the story about terrorism in the Urewera and sent two officers off to the Urewera early in June 2006 looking for a training camp.

Lockett went to the Urewera to the first of a few wananga he attended three months later in September 2006. He invited Madden to go with him to another wananga but didn’t tell him what it was about other than he should bring a gun for a bit of a shoot up. Madden said he would go. Lockett waited at the agreed rendezvous for three hours but Madden didn’t show and he went on his own. Whether Madden got cold feet or was warned off by the Police is not known.

Early in 2007, probably in February or March, Madden approached Rangi Kemara through Lockett. He offered to sell Kemara a fully automatic shotgun. It was probably a Police “sting” because automatic shotguns are illegal. The offer set off alarm bells and Lockett and Kemara both became suspicious. Coincidentally and shortly after the shotgun episode Lockett came into possession of a copy of a letter Madden had sent to his Police handler. He gave a copy to Kemara who told Taame Iti about it. He took it show Taame Iti on 3 June 2007, the same day that Iti received text messages telling him that the activities in the Urewera were mentioned at Police HQ in Wellington.

The letter was probably written a few months before it was discovered. It confirmed that Madden was a Police informant and that his handler had told him to get more information from Lockett rather than Murphy. The letter stated:

Look there are several big issues looming here and I am sailing through a bloody troubled straight”.

“Jm is now obviously a much larger figure potentially involved in multiple criminal pursuits than any to which I was aware”.

You were correct to steer me to continue plying jl a much safer more transparent source than jm will ever be”.

At the end of the day if this is or has the potential to be a politically opposed challenge to current or any government in NZ, or is seditious behaviour period, or some form of subversive movement based as another highly charged radical group of disgruntled Maori (using their contacts with pakeha or other ethnics or non maori and all of whom jm and jl included are ultimately one by one or if timely all become expendable) then within the pursuit of your operational objectives a goal must include discovery of defined theme agenda’s or motive I guess in detective speech”.

But more you need as explained to me to link probable multiple individual agendas with the commonality of a mutually shared proven criminal theme of agenda. A hard ask albeit even with the affront to operate a terrorist training facility in our summer playground backyard, the Bay of Plenty”.

Those extracts from the letter, in their convoluted way, show exactly what Detective Sergeant Pascoe was trying to discover and prove, almost certainly based on earlier information provided to him by Madden. It showed also that Pascoe didn’t have the evidence he needed to prove his terrorism narrative. He never did get it. The Solicitor General’s refusal to allow terrorism charges to proceed proved that.

Throughout the letter Madden raised his personal concerns about being discovered and about his belief that John Murphy was onto him and was having him tailed. He was obviously worried about it, or said he was.

Sometime after Madden’s role was discovered Lockett met Murphy in a café and told him about Madden. Neither of them told Madden what they knew. The very next day the Police whisked Madden away and stashed him in a motel in Orewa for a month, presumably to protect him from any retaliatory action. The Police often followed Lockett into cafés and eavesdropped on him and that may be how they knew. Or Murphy himself may have told them? Lockett didn’t.

That was probably the end of Madden’s usefulness. Lockett didn’t go to any wananga after June 2007 and Murphy never went. Lockett has stated publicly that he was not impressed by Taame Iti and didn’t think the wananga were his thing.

Quite some time later, after the October 2007 paramilitary operation and after Lockett’s arrest and release on bail, Lockett “hunted Madden down” and they met on Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill to the uneducated). It was a typical American TV standoff as they both stayed in their own cars for the meeting. Madden was apparently “shitting his pants” but was desperate to find out how they knew he was a Police informant. Lockett didn’t tell him and to this day he doesn’t know. Madden didn’t know either how the Police found out that he had been identified.

And that, e hoa ma, was the unreliable informant who told a fanciful tale to Aaron Pascoe, who fell for it and convinced his bosses, and over the next year or so they spun it into a nationwide terrorist plot, and convinced Commissioner Howard Broad and Prime Minister Helen Clark to sanction an armed “black role” paramilitary assault on the sleepy Ngai Tuhoe village of Ruatoki, and a few other places as well.

Operation Hi Ho Silver. And as Tonto might have said to Lone Ranger, “What you mean ‘terrorism’ Paleface?”

The Solicitor General said something similar.

Madden Letter v2
The Operation 8 Series