Tackle completely unnecessary: law professor

Mark Henaghan.
Mark Henaghan.
The tackle which felled a streaker at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night was ''totally unnecessary'', legal expert Prof Mark Henaghan says.

The University of Otago dean of law told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he believed there was ''no need'' for security guard and New Zealand under-20 rugby team triallist Brad Hemopo to tackle 28-year-old streaker Adam Holtslag, of Christchurch.

''He hit him from behind which is dangerous,'' he said.

''That's when you can get hurt.''

''You can use reasonable force to defend yourself or to defend others but in this case I think it was totally unnecessary.''

Mr Hemopo's tackle on Mr Holtslag, during the 62nd minute of the All Blacks-England test match on Saturday, has since hit headlines internationally and divided public opinion.

Prof Henaghan said the suggestion a security guard could behave with more force than a non-uniformed person was wrong and the fact the incident occurred on a rugby field did not change the situation.

''It's not exempt just because you're on a rugby paddock.''

He did not believe the players were at risk and Mr Holtslag appeared to have his hands up and was walking from the field.

Mr Holtslag's intoxication and nudity were also irrelevant, he said.

''The law protects you whether you are behaving like an idiot or not,'' he said.

The idea Mr Holtslag deserved on-field punishment for streaking was also wrong as ''that's the court's job''.

Anyone could lay a complaint to police but they had ''total discretion'' as to whether to prosecute, he said.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive Terry Davies said he was comfortable with the force used to remove Mr Holtslag from the field.

''I think the tackle was appropriate,'' he said.

''If he [Mr Holtslag] was in motion we wouldn't have even been having this discussion.''

Mr Davies was confident Mr Hemopo was licensed and accredited for the job and had acted according to his ''brief''.

''The reality is we have a responsibility to the players ... safety is of paramount importance.''

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said Mr Holtslag put himself and the players ''at risk by his foolish actions''.

''We expect test match venues to take quick and decisive action when there is anything that threatens the safe operation of a match.''

When contacted yesterday, Mr Hemopo again said he was unable to speak about Saturday's incident.

Attempts to contact the security contractor yesterday were unsuccessful.

Mr Davies said DVML would review the ''deployment of staff'' to attempt to prevent streakers getting on the pitch.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

Potential threat?

Up to the point of being tackled the only crimes the guy had committed and looked likely to commit were those with which he was charged by the NZ Police. No weapons of mass destruction to be seen. No weapons of any kind. No behaviour to suggest he may ruin any of the players careers. A potential threat? DVML had a potential 28,000+ threats to players. Let's cage everyone in.

And from the video footage and comments from both sides it is clear the streaker had no idea what was about to transpire. And given the speed with which the security guards arrived they would have had no trouble detaining him with an arm hold or similar legal application of force. [Abridged]

 

Agree and disagree

BMC: I agree about the review as that is probably why they mishandled the whole thing in the first place - too few interational matches.

And if you 'invade' the pitch the law does not allow you to be smashed to the ground.

Other things to ponder

Professor Mark Henaghan's views of this ugly incident reflect those of many in the wider community, while the views of Mr Terry Davies of DVML seem to be reflective of those in the rugby community.  I have wondered just what Mr Hemopo would have done if this streaker had been a woman.  Would Mr Davies be still defending this type of assault?  I also wonder just what the players on the turf were at risk from?  Mr Davies has not, to my knowledge spelled this out.  For example, can anyone point to any streaking incident during any rugby match that has led to any player injury?  Finally, with all of the security guards between the pitch and the stands, how come this man could get over the fence and get to where he finally ran out of steam and was taken down, before he was stopped.  Seems like the guards were not watching the game rather than the crowd,  doesn't it?

Come on

A tackle from any angle is potentially dangerous yet the streaker stepped onto the field knowing full well that was the result - he was going to get tackled by security.

He was not walking off the field. If the security guard had politely asked him to come off do you think he would have? No, probably not. It would have led to a silly chase around the field that held up the game further.

And before people suggest that he posed no risk, Terry Alderman missed a year of cricket after dislocating a shoulder while being tackled by a streaker.  Should security just wait for a streaker to tackle a player before they do something? 

The streaker himself has taken the blame and that should be the end of the matter.

Don't waste your time

"Mr Davies said DVML would review the ''deployment of staff'' to attempt to prevent streakers getting on the pitch."

Don't spend too much time (therefore money) on this issue Mr Davis, the amount of time the Fubar gets used it'll be unlikely we'll see another streaker in the next twelve months.

As for the tackle, he shouldn't have been there in the first place. If you're on the pitch, you're fair game.

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