Mr Big Little Lies: Targeted Undercover Investigations and the Presumption of Innocence

38 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2019 Last revised: 18 Sep 2019

See all articles by Anna Singleton

Anna Singleton

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni

Date Written: September 3, 2018

Abstract

The use of the Crime Scenario Undercover Technique (Mr Big Operations) in New Zealand has not been regarded as a breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The criminal procedure rights offended by Mr Big Operations are prima facie limited to circumstances following arrest, detention, or charge, and are not engaged. The Supreme Court in R v Wichman held that the rights were not material to the admissibility of confession evidence obtained by Mr Big Operations. The author argues that a purposive interpretation of the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty in s 25(c) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 would extend the scope of the right to encompass Mr Big Operations. Should such an interpretation be permitted Mr Big Operations would constitute a limit on the right in s 25(c). Under the approach in Moonen v Film and Literature Board of Review, the limitation on the right in s 25(c) would not constitute a justified limitation in a free and democratic society. The author recommends that Mr Big Operations are regulated to constitute a lesser limitation on the right in s 25(c) and reduce the risk of eliciting false confessions.

Keywords: Mr Big Operations, New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, Presumption of Innocence, Undercover Investigations, Criminal Procedure

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Singleton, Anna, Mr Big Little Lies: Targeted Undercover Investigations and the Presumption of Innocence (September 3, 2018). Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper, Student/Alumni Paper No. 10/2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3449028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3449028

Anna Singleton (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, Victoria 6140
New Zealand

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