The All Blacks' Aussie-based security expert Adrian Gard has appeared in a Sydney court today, pleading not guilty to a charge of public mischief after a listening device was found in the team's Sydney hotel room last year.
The 51-year-old director of the security company Bodyguards International appeared in Sydney's Waverley Local Court on one count of false misrepresentation resulting in a police investigation. He entered a plea of not guilty.
The case has been adjourned until May 2.
The 51-year-old has more than 30 years' experience in the security industry and has worked for leading public figures including former US President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and golfer Tiger Woods.
He's been involved with the All Blacks' security for 10 years.
In August last year, the Herald broke the story that a listening device had been discovered in the team's hotel.
A listening device was found hidden in a chair at the Intercontinental hotel in Double Bay during a routine security check on the lead-up to the side's Bledisloe Cup clash.
Last month All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he couldn't understand why Gard would be charged also took a swipe at suggestions the All Blacks timed the public outing of the scandal to give them an advantage over the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup.
"I don't understand it. I know the guy that has been charged with it and I've got a lot of time and a lot of respect for him," Hansen told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.
"I don't see any motive for him to do it. That's why I can't believe it.
"There's been a lot of talk already and people have been very quick to make judgements. The old, old rule is you're innocent until proven guilty.
"I don't think it's fair the way some people are attacking it."
Hansen said Gard has spent at least a decade in the AB's camp, an environment only the best are allowed to enter.
"He might have even been there longer than that, to be fair. He's someone we hold in high regard.
"We took him to the World Cup in 2015, so he's not a fly-by-nighter and he's not a fly-by-nighter in his business - he's massively respected.
"We don't have people working for us who aren't experts, aren't good at what they do and that you can't trust."
The Australian Rugby Union said it had no involvement in the placement of the listening device.
"The aspect that still leaves a bitter taste out of this whole affair is that the discovery of the device was reported publicly on game day, when it is understood that the alleged discovery of the device occurred much earlier in the week leading up to the test match," ARU chairman Bill Pulver said, after police charged Gard last month.
"Clearly, the media attention, which resulted from it, was a distraction that neither team needed on the morning of a very important test match."
- with news.com.au