By Jessica Rowe
Police say they will foot the bill for a Nelson lawyer who was used as a pawn in the fake prosecution of an undercover cop who infiltrated the Red Devils gang.
But the lawyer says that isn't good enough. He wants an apology and assurance they won't abuse the court in undercover operations ever again.
The raid at the Red Devils headquarters in Nelson last year led to 22 arrests, one of them an undercover cop.
Barrister Tony Bamford was duped into representing the officer and says when the operation was terminated his client simply disappeared.
“I was left with a file involving a charge, which was an absolute sham,” says Mr Bamford. “I had done quite a bit of a work, all for nothing, and I haven't been paid.”
A High Court judge found the undercover operation into the notorious motorcycle gang abused court processes.
He dropped all the charges, saying police had carried out a fake arrest on their undercover officer and used a false search warrant.
“This is so-called search warrant document, it's just a forgery,” says Mr Bambord.
He says he has been treated as a pawn and he wants an apology.
“The purpose of that sham was to achieve greater mana of this undercover officer in the group. That is such a fundamentally wrong legal process that I believe the police need to make a decision and have a protocol where that type of thing never happens again.”
In a statement, assistant police commissioner Malcolm Burgess says police have not yet received an invoice from Mr Bamford, but he will be paid. And he says police are reviewing processes around undercover investigations in light of the issues raised by this case.
The Nelson community is worried the court case was thrown out.
‘It's a concern,” says Mayor Aldo Miccio. “We just want to ensure the police hopefully take it to an appeal situation. Their intentions are good and we just want this resolved.”
The Solicitor General has a week left to lodge an appeal against the decision to drop charges against the 21 gang members.