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Gang patch ruling appeal could cost $40,000




Appealing against the High Court decision that overturned Whanganui's gang patch ban could cost up to $40,000.

Wanganui District Council was to decide its next move at a meeting yesterday after Phillip Schubert, a member of Auckland Hells Angels, had the city's gang insignia bylaw overturned in the High Court by Justice Denis Clifford last week.

But instead, the council voted unanimously to adjourn discussion on the matter for a week to obtain more legal advice.

Former mayor Michael Laws, who is still a councillor, urged his fellow councillors to approach police national headquarters for its view on appealing against the decision and whether it would help provide funds.

He also requested that all council discussion about strategy take place in private so that opponents of the gang patch ban could not find out about it through the media.

Information from council lawyers Kensington Swan, tabled at the meeting, said an appeal against the High Court decision would cost $30,000 to $40,000 and could be heard in October if progressed quickly.

Last week, Justice Clifford ruled that the council exceeded its powers when it created the bylaw in 2009. A special act of Parliament allowed the council to control rather than completely ban gang insignia, which is what it effectively did by applying its ban to the Whanganui urban area, he said.

The judge also ruled that the council had not fully considered the effect such a wide-ranging ban would have on freedoms of expression guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

If the council were simply to begin work on a new gang insignia bylaw, it could be in force by September, Kensington Swan's advice said.


- The Dominion Post


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