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Private investigator labelled a conspiracy theorist fights loss of licence

Private investigator Grace Haden is challenging an attempt to cancel the certificate she needs to work in the industry.

A private investigator described as an obsessive conspiracy theorist and a "very difficult woman" is challenging a decision to deny her a certificate allowing her to keep working.

Grace Haden, a former police prosecutor turned "transparency" campaigner, was in court on Friday challenging a Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority decision not to renew the certificate of approval she needs to continue operating as a private investigator.

In its January decision declining the renewal, the authority said Haden "appears to hold very strong views on many matters and she is adamant that there is some form of conspiracy afoot".

The ruling said there was no evidence to support Haden's conspiracy theories and "it appears to boil down to a long-held obsession which can only harm her ability to carry out her duties as a private investigator in a rational and professional manner".

But in the Napier District Court on Friday, Haden argued the authority had no grounds to refuse to renew her certificate.

In 2008, a court ordered Haden to pay $57,500 in damages for defamation, with Judge Roderick Joyce referring to her "persistent selection of what suits her to focus upon in terms inevitably distorting overall realities".

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The judge's comment was included in the authority's licence renewal decision, but Haden told Judge Geoff Rea on Friday she was still fighting the 2008 decision via the Serious Fraud Office.

"If a person thinks I'm in a position to prove something, people attack me," she said.

The authority also quoted from a police file related to another matter, in which an officer described Haden as "a very difficult woman who targets people she believes have wronged her and society. She has a number of conspiracy theories in regards to the police and other people she has dealt with".

However, Haden said her reputation was "beyond reproach", and the authority's attempt to remove her from the industry had been influenced by a private investigator "who is a competitor".

The judge asked Haden if, in the event he sided with the authority and against her, "you're going to include me in your conspiracy theory?"

She assured him she would not. "There are judges I wouldn't give the time of day, but I respect you very much, your honour."

The judge asked both sides to provide further written submissions before he would deliver a reserved decision on the matter.

* In a decision made on July 10, 2017, Judge Rea found that the authority was "quite correct in determining that the appellant's certificate of approval should not be renewed and therefore this appeal is dismissed".

Judge Rea said the grounds of appeal put forward by Haden related to either the Bill of Rights or the United Nations Convention Against Corruption so his decision, similar to the Authority's earlier decision, "has nothing to do with the appellant's rights as to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or freedom of expression nor her right to justice or to public reporting".

"This decision is based solely on the way that she has behaved during the currency of the Certificate of Approval and how she has not met the standard required of her," he said.

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