Queenstown operators are aghast a local bar’s staff were allowed to download footage of boozed patrons for in-house amusement.
The revelation emerged at last week’s trial of infamous local bouncer Jonathan Dixon, found guilty of dishonestly accessing a computer and footage he had no right to.
Dixon, to be sentenced in June, famously uploaded Altitude bar footage to YouTube, showing England rugby star Mike Tindall partying with an ex weeks after marrying royal Zara Phillips.
At Dixon’s trial, witness Blair Impey – who worked at the venue during the scandalous Rugby World Cup 2011 incident – admitted staff regularly downloaded “funny” clips from security footage to a work computer to watch for entertainment.
“To us there’s nothing wrong with that because it’s not affecting anything to do with the bar outside the business,” Impey told the court, adding: “But we didn’t post it anywhere public.”
Queenstown’s Bunker bar owner Cameron Mitchell says such a practise – even in-house – is unacceptable in his opinion.
Mitchell, also the local Restaurant Association of New Zealand branch president, says four years ago he had his security footage console locked and coded so only he could access it.
“The reason I did that was because I had staff accessing it and that’s absolutely inappropriate,” Mitchell says, adding he sacked a staff member because of it.
“I had staff accessing the system. I said it’s not your property – it belongs to me. My personal opinion is that’s unacceptable. I’d call that gross insubordination.”
Lone Star owner Dave Gardiner agrees: “That stuff is strictly confidential. It’s something that only management should access.
“There’s no way any staff members should be – it’s a breach of trust of the customer and staff working.”
Local bar baron Mike Burgess, whose empire includes Winnies and Buffalo, says it’s up to managers to decide whether to share footage with staff, but making it public is a no-no.
“I’d like to think managers make the call whether all the staff should be around having a laugh, which I wouldn’t expect would be appropriate.
“They’d probably have better things to do – unless it was something outstanding so I suppose to a certain extent it’s a bit of human nature,” he says.
Burgess has no set policy on who can view footage but says it could be considered: “I don’t see it as too serious, but appreciate there are certain scenarios that could have serious implications. What goes on in premises at times, possibly a lot of people would like to remain unknown.”
Altitude boss Richard Deane, also general manager of Base Back-packers, says at the time of the Tindall incident some staff were allowed to download files to work’s desktop for viewing but footage was never to leave the premises.
Part of the reason they had access was if police requested footage when investigating alleged crimes.
“When this [Tindall] malarkey happened 18 months ago, a lot of policies changed as soon as we saw footage had left the hostel.
“The policy has changed. No one apart from myself or the bar manager can save footage.”
Deane says reception supervisors are still allowed to view footage if police come in and request it.