Police lay charges over 'bug gate'

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The long-running bugging saga is nearing an end, with NSW Police today charging one of the All Blacks' security detail over the controversy.

It is believed the man charged is Adrian Gard, from Bodyguards International (BGI), who has been involved with the team on numerous visits to Australia and has also been enlisted in the past to protect Schapelle Corby in Indonesia.

BGI's website lists Paris Hilton, Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Jackman alongside the All Blacks as some of the clients it has worked with.

When contacted, Gard's brother and director of Bodyguards International, Ashley, declined to comment before simply saying the accusations were 'unsubstantiated'. 

There was little pain in transition for the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesNSW Police confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that they had charged a 51-year-old man with public mischief over the discovery of the listening device, which emerged on the day of the opening Bledisloe Cup in 2016 but would not officially confirm the identity of the man involved.

Public mischief relates to 'Any person who, by any means, knowingly makes to a police officer any false representation that an act has been, or will be, done or that any event has occurred, or will occur' that requires 'for an investigation by a police officer,'.

A conviction for public mischief can, at its worst, lead to 12 months in prison, a fine of up to $5,500 or both. 

The All Blacks were staying at Double Bay's Intercontinental Hotel at the time and the device was uncovered in their team room.

Its discovery led to tension between New Zealand and Australia in the months following, which culminated in an extraordinary press conference after the final trans-Tasman showdown of 2016.

New Zealand Rugby responded to news of the charges in a statement on Tuesday, with All Blacks coach describing the charges as 'bizarre'.

“Frankly, the charge seems bizarre and unbelievable. It’s very hard to understand. 

"The charged man has worked for the All Blacks, and many other organisations, for a long time and is someone who is trusted and well-respected by us. - Steve Hansen

“However, as with all cases before the courts, there has to be a due process that takes place and it is not right or proper for us to make any further comment as this could jeopardise the outcome of the case.”

The man charged will appear in court over the matter on March 21.

ARU CEO Bill Pulver applauded the police for their work in charging the man and took a thinly veiled swipe at his New Zealand counterparts over the timing of the discovery.

“On behalf of the ARU, I commend the NSW Police for their ongoing pursuit of this matter and for providing closure with a charge being laid against an individual today,"  he said.

“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.

“Clearly the media attention which resulted from it was a distraction that neither team needed on the morning of a very important Test match.  - Bill Pulver

“The ARU and the Wallabies were never accused of any wrongdoing, however it was still important that this matter reached a conclusion to provide complete reassurance to all fans that the organisation and the team had no part in any of this.

“There may be some questions that remain but certainly today’s news is welcome news that an individual has been called to account over this incident,” he said.