Police have closed their investigation into the theft of e-mails from former National Party leader Dr Don Brash and have announced that they have been unsuccessful in identifying those responsible for the thefts.
Detective Inspector Harry Quinn, the Officer in Charge of the investigation and Wellington Police District Crime Services Manager, said today that police had been unable to establish with certainty how the e-mails had actually been stolen.
"How the thefts occurred still largely remains a mystery," said Detective Inspector Quinn. "We have eliminated the suggestion that an external 'computer hacker' had breached the computer security within Parliament but there remains many other potential ways in which the crimes could have occurred."
During the initial stages of the enquiry, police were very concerned that Parliamentary Services computer systems had been breached by some external attack. But the investigation has concluded that no unauthorised or unlawful breach took place.
Police became aware of the thefts during the lead up to the 2005 General Election but no formal complaint was laid by Dr Brash until September 2006. By that time rumours were widespread that large volumes of Brash e-mails were circulating within political and media circles.
The investigation established that e-mails created between October 2003 and November 2005 had been stolen from the ownership of Dr Brash but found no evidence of any thefts since November 2005. In late 2006 extracts from 475 separate Brash e-mails were used by Nicky Hager as the foundation for his book - "The Hollow Men".
Mr Hager when interviewed by the investigation declined to identify to police the source of the e-mails he used in his book. Other than two e-mails that were tabled during Parliamentary debate, police did not locate any of the original stolen e-mails.
Detective Inspector Quinn would not speculate on how he thought the e-mails had been taken from Dr Brash.
"There are strong indications that the e-mails were in printed form at the time of the theft, but with the thefts perhaps happening at any time over the two- year period it is very likely that they were stolen during several incidents," Detective Inspector Quinn said.
The investigation saw police interview Parliamentary computer staff, Parliamentary Security staff, cleaners, members of Dr Brash's staff, Politicians, journalists and friends of Dr Brash.
"Many of them had their own theories on who was responsible and why the thefts had occurred," said Detective Inspector Quinn. "But in the end no firm evidence pointing to a potential perpetrator was uncovered. The file is closed until someone comes forward with some compelling evidence."
Detective Inspector Quinn said that the investigation uncovered several anomalies with the current computer crimes law and the investigation file would be referred to Police Legal advisers to examine ways in which those loopholes might be overcome.