A prominent Auckland defence lawyer was found with drug paraphernalia including a glass pipe and plastic bag - commonly used alongside methamphetamine - as he entered a district court building.

The lawyer was stopped by security staff at the Manukau District Court on the afternoon of 29 August at the screening point.

He was found with a glass pipe, two lighters and an empty small clear bag - often referred to as a "point bag" and used for holding methamphetamine or other drugs.
Security staff called police.

Counties Manukau Police Inspector Alison Brand confirmed the incident.

"The man denied they were his or any knowledge of how they got into his jacket pocket," she said.

"The items were confiscated and the man was given a verbal warning for possession of drug utensils.

"There is no further action from police."

Once a person has received a warning from police, they cannot then be charged over the same incident.

Ministry of Justice acting head of health, safety and security Jonathan Howe, confirmed the man was detained by security staff and police were called.

"Our court security officers work closely with justice sector partners, including police, Corrections, the judiciary and Ministry of Justice colleagues to reduce risk and enhance the safety of everyone who use courts," Howe said today.

"Security screening is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of security incidents occurring in the courts.

"Lawyers are not exempt from screening in courthouses."

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Howe said under the Court Security Act 1999 powers were granted to court security officers.

Amendments came into effect in April this year expanding officers' powers to enable them to deal more effectively with low-level offending and disruptive behaviour in courts and tribunals.

"CSO's can also seize a detected item if the item handed over is of such a nature as to give them reasonable grounds to believe that it is capable of being used to commit an offence involving violence within the courtroom or would otherwise be dangerous to allow the person to keep with him or her in the court," Howe explained.

"If possession of the item is unlawful, the court security officers refer the matter to the police."

Howe said the Ministry took its obligations towards the health, safety and security of all court users seriously.

"Our court security officers have been reminded that all members of the public who wish to enter a courthouse must go through the security screening process," he said

"The ministry has also reminded the Law Society that lawyers are not exempt from screening in courthouses."

Since April the Ministry has recorded 105 incidents involving drugs or drug paraphernalia at courts.

The Herald has contacted the lawyer - who has represented offenders in some of the country's biggest criminal cases - for comment.

He earlier offered an explanation to Stuff for the confiscated items.

He said that the paraphernalia was found inside a sunglasses case which was in the a pocket of his jacket.

He suggested the items could have been planted.

The lawyer explained that he had been at the Auckland District Court earlier the same day.

While waiting in a public area he was checking emails and left his jacket on a seat behind him.

"That's the only place I could possibly think when the jacket was away from me," he told Stuff.

Police confirmed they had no plans to get the items fingerprinted as the lawyer had been warned and the incident was effectively resolved.

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