Rickards gets ready to fight charges

By Mathew Dearnaley

Suspended assistant police commissioner Clint Rickards is preparing to fight at least nine disciplinary charges alleging breaches of police regulations.

Most of the charges against him are believed to relate to his behaviour during or after the High Court trial this year in which he was acquitted, with former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, of kidnapping and indecently assaulting a teenager with a whisky bottle in 1984.

That behaviour included wearing his police uniform to part of the trial and his public criticism, soon after being acquitted, of the competence of the police investigation - which he called a "shambles" - into allegations by Rotorua rape complainant Louise Nicholas and other women.

Mr Rickards is also being called to account for proclaiming the innocence of Shipton and Schollum in an earlier case, in which they were convicted and jailed for the kidnap and rape with at least one other man of a 20-year-old woman in Mt Maunganui.

This year's trial was the second time Mr Rickards had stood in the dock with Shipton and Schollum on sex charges. The trio were acquitted last year of 20 charges, including of raping and sexually violating Mrs Nicholas in 1985 and 1986, after Mr Rickards admitted to having group sex with her but said it was consensual.

Although one or more of the disciplinary charges he now faces relates to another woman's allegation that he had sex with her on the bonnet of a police car in 1983, he is not understood to be facing action over any activities with Mrs Nicholas.

The police would not confirm yesterday a report in the Herald on Sunday that Mr Rickards, who is believed to be drawing about $250,000 a year from the police, had laid an official complaint with them about Mrs Nicholas and the officers who investigated her claims against him.

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