Revealed: Porn-addicted Govt manager who planted spy cam in gym

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 25 May 2021, 2:27pm
Philip Barnes has had name suppression since his offending. Photo / Facebook
Philip Barnes has had name suppression since his offending. Photo / Facebook

Revealed: Porn-addicted Govt manager who planted spy cam in gym

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 25 May 2021, 2:27pm

A porn-addicted Government manager who planted a spy camera in a gym bathroom has had his discharge without conviction and permanent name suppression overturned and can now be identified.

He is Phillip Barnes, the former chief executive of International Accreditation New Zealand - a Crown organisation at the fore of the national Covid-19 pandemic response.

And he has issued a lengthy apology for his offending.

The Herald first revealed the charges against the 65-year-old Browns Bay man.

It also revealed Barnes tried for more than a year to hide his offending from IANZ and managed to convince a court - with no input, proof or support from the agency - that their reputation would suffer extreme hardship if he was named.

Yesterday it was confirmed a final bid for suppression in the Supreme Court had failed. His name suppression lapsed at 2pm today.

IANZ, which works closely with many government departments including medical laboratories to ensure they are meeting international regulations and standards, had no idea he was even before the courts and say they are deeply disappointed Barnes misled them.

The Herald has been following Barnes case since 2017 and has been unable to report any detail that could identify him or IANZ until today.

In October last year the High Court ruled the original decision to keep his details secret was wrong, based on "incomplete and inaccurate information" and "knowledge of the fact that a high-ranking public servant has committed this offending is clearly in the public interest".

The High Court decision came after a police appeal against the original sentence and suppression order.

Barnes then mounted a second appeal - which was dismissed.

The Court of Appeal said the offending was serious and "should not be hidden".

In November 23 2017 the man placed a small USB spy camera in the changing room of a gym in the Auckland area.

After it was found, police discovered a total of 39,360 still images and 12 video files on the camera, showing six victims in various states of undress or naked.

The man eventually pleaded guilty to a representative charge of intentionally making an intimate visual recording of another person.

IANZ chairman Paul Connell said police visited Barnes' office in 2017 and removed his computer for forensic investigation.

Police told Connell at the time the computer was being taken in relation to a hidden camera found in a gym changing room.

After the Herald revealed details of the man's initial sentencing, IANZ approached Barnes to ask if he was the offender but he refused to comment and resigned soon after.

IANZ then went to the court seeking details and to confirm it did not support Barnes and had not backed his bid for secrecy.

"IANZ is deeply disappointed that it has been misled and deceived in this way," said Connell.

The name of the gym where the camera was found is suppressed.

The gym did not respond to the Herald when contacted.

Barnes provided a statement through his lawyer Ron Mansfield.

He said he regretted his offending and sincerely apologised to the victims the impact his conduct has had for them.

"I likewise apologise to my wife and family for the embarrassment, hurt and shame I have caused them by my offending," he said.

"I have betrayed your trust and love and I know the impact for you has been immeasurable."

He also apologised to his employer and colleagues for the impact his offending had on them.

"I have let you all down when you were entitled to expect much more from me,' he said.

Barnes blamed the media - in part - for his current situation regarding suppression.

"While the victims are protected by law, I have tried to protect the rest of you, where I have been able, from the ramifications of my actions," he said.

"However, the resultant media interest in my case as a result of what I have done has meant that my efforts have been in vain, or simply made things worse.

"I trust that you know this was not intended or wanted.

"My desire for name suppression was entirely driven by a want to protect those innocently hurt by my actions.

"All of you, and the community that I have served for many years had the right to expect better from me and I hope that you can all find it in your hearts to forgive me."

Barnes reasoned everyone was "capable of making mistakes".

"No one is immune," he said.

"Unfortunately, mine, and at a late stage in my life and professional career, were serious and have hurt others,' he said.

"I do not run from that and have sought to confront the conduct by seeking and getting help.

"It is only by confronting the issues, that I can address them and ensure there is no repeat."

Barnes also said his "health" was behind his offending.

"It will now be clear that I have suffered from some significant health issues and that they lie behind my conduct and the hurt I have caused," he stated.

"My conduct marks a sad crisis point in my life and It took my arrest for me to realise this and to seek help, which I did and am still doin," he said.

"I have done all I can to acknowledge and address my issues and to make amends to my victims, family, and the wider community.

"While I understand that with such a mistake, comes recognition, shame, and punishment, I trust that the community will also understand how this conduct arose and allow me to redeem myself as I intend."

He promised the offending would not be an issue again.

"This mistake will never happen again – of that, everybody can be confident."