Exclusive: Fresh links revealed between MBIE and private investigation company accused of spying

Paul Hobbs
Source: 1News

Fresh links between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the controversial private investigation company accused of spying have been revealed by 1 NEWS.

Despite the ministry denying working with Thompson and Clark for five years, 1 NEWS has discovered a trail of documents that detail a close relationship.

Three times in five minutes a car was caught driving past Greenpeace's Auckland office, keeping watch.

"We have every reason to believe that the surveillance and spying by Thompson and Clark is ongoing," said Russel Norman, Greenpeace director.

Eight months ago, Greenpeace got a tip-off that controversial private investigators Thompson and Clark were spying on them then passing the details to a government department. So they flipped the camera on them.

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called on all government departments to stop using information from Thompson and Clark obtained by spying, "because their behaviour around spying and so on is totally inappropriate".

It comes on the back of revelations that state-owned insurance company Southern Repsonse hired Thompson and Clark to spy on insurance claimants from the Christchurch earthquake.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show a close relationship between Thompson and Clark and MBIE going back five years.

"When you read these emails, it's amazing how friendly it all is. 'Let's go for a beer. Let's go for a coffee.' There's discussion of skiing together," Mr Norman said.

In 2015, Thompson and Clark began supplying MBIE with weekly intelligence reports it was pulling together for the oil and gas industry on protest groups.

Thompson and Clark then started using MBIE to drum up more work with foreign oil and mining companies.

"Since when is it the government's job to help a spy agency like Thompson and Clark to get new contracts with mining companies?" Mr Norman said.

In the three months to February this year, MBIE admits handling more than 2000 documents and emails relating to Thompson and Clark.

Despite this, MBIE denies having a contractual relationship with Thompson and Clark since 2013.

Thompson and Clark say they don't talk publicly about clients.

And former energy minister Simon Bridges says it's an operational matter.

1 NEWS understands Thompson and Clark work with many government departments.

The State Services Commission is expected to announce tomorrow details around its inquiry into Thompson and Clark's dealings with those government agencies.