All Blacks drawn into new sex scandal & spygate revelations

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:28
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RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: It may be coincidence, but two 'ghosts' from the past have come back to take centre stage ahead of the opening Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and All Blacks.

In quick succession the Australian media had new 'revelations' about the spygate and Aaron Smith incidents, as the New Zealand team arrived in Sydney ahead of Saturday's big showdown.

It was revealed that An independent lawyer has been instructed by the New Zealand Rugby Union to reopen an investigation into the Aaron Smith airport toilet sex incident.

In a statement the NZRU said the re-opened investigation is a response to fresh media reports about the situation.

"Based on information published today [Thursday] the New Zealand Rugby Union believes that it needs to investigate the Aaron Smith matter further and has instructed an independent lawyer to do so," the statement said.

"Until those enquiries are complete we will not be making any further statements to the media. It is effectively an employment issue that requires investigation."

The fresh investigation comes after All Black coach Steve Hansen said told a media briefing: "We dealt with it and we feel that we dealt with it decisively.

"There's nothing more that I can add to that, but if it needs to be spoken about it will come from the New Zealand Rugby Union," Hansen added.

The incident has created headlines once again after the Daily Mail Australia published messages exchanged between Smith and the woman involved.

It is alleged Smith tried to make the woman sign a false affidavit to go along with a version of events he told All Blacks officials, a request she did not accept.

The woman, who was caught in a disabled toilet at Christchurch airport with Smith, reportedly instructed lawyers to send a letter to New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew, Highlanders Chief Executive Roger Clark and Smith's agent Warren Alcock last week asking for the footballer to make a public statement about what really happened.

* The Smith saga comes at a time when the spygate issue also took a new twist.

An All Black security guard accused of making up claims about finding a bugging device at the team's Sydney hotel ahead of the corresponding match last year has lost a bid to have the case against him thrown out of court.

Downing Centre Local Court magistrate Jennifer Atkinson rejected a submission on Thursday from Adrian Gard's defence barrister that he had no case to answer on the charge of making a false representation resulting in a police investigation over the bug.

Barrister Anthony Kimmins claimed the prosecution case against Gard was circumstantial and it could not be proved he had made up the story about finding the listening device secreted in a chair in the All Blacks' meeting room at the hotel in August last year.

Kimmins said the fact police were suspicious about Gard's story did not mean he was guilty.

But prosecutor Stephen Dayeian told the court that "the device was never in the chair" and Gard had indeed made it all up.

Detective Sergeant Paul Mangan, officer in charge of the investigation, had earlier told the court Gard was initially treated as a witness but the detective was "suspicious of some of the circumstances".

Questioned by Kimmins, Detective Sergeant Mangan agreed he was scathing of All Blacks team manager Darren Shand when interviewing him for the first time five days after the bug was found.

Detective Sergeant Mangan said police were concerned about what had happened to the two chairs which Gard claimed had given abnormal readings during a bug sweep of the team's meeting room in the hotel on August 15 last year.

Shand had previously told the court he saw one of the chairs in Gard's room had been cut open and there was what looked like a listening device inside.

Detective Sergeant Mangan said the chairs in question had later been left unattended in the hotel for five days before police were called in.

Sources: AAP & 1 NEWS

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