14 Nov 2008

Rickards permitted to practise law

2:44 pm on 14 November 2008

The New Zealand Law Society says former Auckland police commander Clint Rickards can practise law.

Mr Rickards was acquitted of sex charges, but has faced opposition to his move to become a barrister and solicitor.

The application has been so contentious that the Auckland District Law Society passed it up to the New Zealand Law Society to rule on.

The New Zealand Law Society has just granted him a certificate of character, so he can proceed with his application. The society says it agonized over the decision.

Society president John Marshall, QC, says Mr Rickards has had a distinguished career in the police force, and he was acquitted of the charges he faced.

Mr Marshall says the law society would like the public to respect its decision.

Mr Rickards must next be admitted to the Bar, then also apply for a practising certificate.

Mr Rickards responds

Mr Rickards says the ruling is expected and just.

In a written statement on his behalf, his lawyer, John Haigh, says the presumption of innocence is the cornerstone of the legal system.

He says Mr Rickards wishes to continue to work in the community as a lawyer, focusing on Maori issues and helping those who are not able to access or afford legal assistance.

Women's Refuge 'disappointed'

The Women's Refuge says it is very disappointed that he will be allowed to practise law.

Spokesperson Sarah Pomeroy believes it is the wrong decision. "One of the underpinnings of the New Zealand justice system is that people have confidence that those who are asked to represent them are fit and proper persons to do so."

Ms Pomeroy says the organisation feels for complainant Louise Nicholas, who laid the rape complaint against Mr Rickards.