Nicholas urges Law Society to bar Rickards

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Clint Rickards should not become a lawyer because he left the police rather than face a disciplinary hearing over his conduct, says Louise Nicholas.

The Herald on Sunday has obtained an exclusive extract of Nicholas' submission to the Auckland District Law Society.

She wrote that Rickards should not be admitted to the bar because of his previous "abhorrent behaviour.

"Clinton Rickards had his opportunity to clear his name and prove his alleged innocence by way of the police internal disciplinary hearing last year but chose not to clear his name in the 11th hour and resigned from the New Zealand police," Nicholas wrote.

"I suggest to you the reason for this quick departure from the disciplinary hearing and being allowed to resign from the police [was] because Clinton Rickards and his legal counsel knew the evidence that was stacked against him."

Nicholas - now working as a "survivor advocate" for Rape Prevention Auckland - said every person deserved a second chance to get on with their lives. "But with Clinton Rickards... my concern is for women who have been sexually violated and will inevitably come up against him in a court room."

She also wrote it was "absolutely shameful" that Rickards publicly supported co-accused Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum immediately after the trio were acquitted and criticised the police.

"For this man to stand on the steps of the Auckland High Court and publicly announce that 'my good mates Shipton and Schollum should not be in jail, they are good men' is absolutely shameful," wrote Nicholas.

Rickards, Shipton and Schollum were last March acquitted of raping Nicholas in the early 1980s. It was revealed later that Shipton and Schollum had been convicted in 2005 of the pack rape of another woman in Mt Maunganui in 1989.

Former Assistant Commissioner Rickards resigned from the police in November, instead of facing 10 internal charges at a police disciplinary hearing, and has since finished his law degree at the University of Auckland.

He has applied to the High Court in Auckland for admission as a barrister and solicitor - normally a rubber-stamping exercise - but needs a "good character" certificate from the Law Society to become a practising lawyer.

Written submissions from the public closed on Friday.

Rickards did not wish to comment on Nicholas' submission, but, in an exclusive interview with the Herald on Sunday last week, he said he deserved another chance.

"Let's be clear, I haven't done anything, okay?" he said.

"I have worked hard all my life. I have contributed to society. My family have contributed to society and continue to do so. We want to make an impact on society.

"I just want to work with my people, you know."

In a poll on the website, 84 per cent of participants said they thought Rickards should not be admitted to the bar.

- Herald on Sunday

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