Neighbours at War: Man takes police to tribunal for withholding information about ‘unhinged’ neighbour

3 min read

The Human Rights Review Tribunal met today to hear the man’s claim against the police. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson

When a man’s wife died he couldn’t imagine himself loving anyone else.

Especially not his neighbour who he claims did not take his rebuffing of her alleged advances for a relationship well and allegedly retaliated by repeatedly telling police he was harassing her.

The man says he didn’t want anything to do with the woman, let alone a relationship with her, but that didn’t stop him being served a cease and desist notice by police in May last year.


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Unhappy with the way he says he was treated, and fed up with his neighbour calling the police on him when he claims he was just minding his own business, he made a request for the evidence of his harassment against his neighbour under the Privacy Act.

Police complied in part but made a number of redactions to the disclosure which the man said wasn’t good enough.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal sat today to hear the man's case. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson
The Human Rights Review Tribunal sat today to hear the man’s case. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson

Most crucially he says the complete evidence of his alleged harassment against his neighbour was missing so he took his fight to the Privacy Commissioner who then referred it to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

On Monday that tribunal met to hear the man’s claim and police’s explanation for not releasing all the information he’d requested from them.


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For their part police claim the redactions would have been an unwarranted disclosure of the neighbour’s affairs.

Neighbours at War

In his opening submissions to the tribunal the man claimed that his neighbour, who has interim name suppression, made numerous unfounded complaints of harassment against him in retaliation for him rebuffing her alleged advances.

He said told the tribunal he had no idea what she’d complained about and was surprised when police turned up on his doorstep in May 2022 to serve him with a letter ordering him to cease and desist his harassment.

“I had no idea what I’d been accused of and what I needed to do to comply with police instructions,” he said.

“My human rights have been denied, exacerbated by my unhinged neighbour who has weaponised the law against me.”

The neighbours had lived next door to one another for more than twenty years and their relationship began to deteriorate in the last five years, he said.

He said the woman erected surveillance cameras that filmed parts of his property, something the Privacy Commissioner said he couldn’t do anything about. When he erected fake plastic cameras of his own, the woman complained to police he was filming into her property and that it constituted harassment.

The man then replaced a fence between the two properties and the woman alleged he had harassed her by crossing onto her property to paint a portion of the fence.


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He said his neighbour then placed a photo of his late wife in her windowsill, facing towards his property.

“This was a cruel, spiteful and malicious action on her part. It was designed to do nothing other than upset me,” he told the tribunal.

The man's neighbour placed a photo of his late wife in her window. Photo / Supplied.
The man’s neighbour placed a photo of his late wife in her window. Photo / Supplied.

After being served with the cease and desist notice the man made a request to police for information it held about him, including any evidence it held against him as well as the substance of the complaints against him.

Police quickly complied with his request but redacted parts that related to the specifics of the neighbour’s complaints on the basis that it didn’t relate to the man specifically.

“One of the basic tenets of NZ law is access to evidence made against a person,” he told the tribunal.

“If I have done these things then prove them. If not, why are we here?”


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The man said he’d made a complaint to the Law Society about the woman, who is a lawyer, and wanted the full scope of the redacted file so he could pursue a private prosecution against her for making allegedly false complaints to the police.

Privacy Request

Anyone can make an Information Privacy request from any organisation in New Zealand about information it holds about them from the police, to your local bakery, and they have to supply it.

Police said it responded to the man’s request within a day and supplied him the file, but redacted certain parts it said didn’t relate to him personally.

Police say they complied with the man's privacy request. Photo / NZME
Police say they complied with the man’s privacy request. Photo / NZME

“This is a narrow claim. In essence the police received his request and responded to it,” counsel for the police, Kayla Grant, said.

“The sole issue is the appropriateness of those redactions which were applied to the file.”


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Grant said police had complied with the request and there was simply no entitlement for him to access personal information that was not about him.

Grant called a police staff member as a witness before the tribunal who handled the man’s privacy request.

Both the man and media were asked to leave the courtroom as the tribunal was talked through the redactions that were made as part of the request in order to assess whether excluding the information was valid.

Grant said in her closing submissions that there was no information in the redacted material that would assist the man in furthering a separate prosecution against his neighbour.

She said police had struck a balance between what was clearly a neighbourly dispute where there was a lot of animosity between the two parties and made a call about what was appropriate to release.

Grant made the final point that releasing the woman’s information was not necessary for the man to understand the allegations against him and that it was clear what those allegations were.


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“It’s simply not credible for him to say he had no understanding of the allegations against him,” she said.

Grant said the neighbourly dispute was the true source of the grievance, rather than the police’s failure to supply him the information it was legally required to.

The tribunal has reserved its decision.


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