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Strip search case: ’No evidence’ attack was gang related

Inside the maximum security prison at Paremoremo in Auckland - Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham Farrelly

A corrections manager at Auckland prison says an intelligence officer told a meeting there was no evidence to suggest an attack on staff two days prior was gang related, but a strip search continued regardless.

High profile prisoners Arthur Taylor and Phillip John Smith are at the High Court in Auckland alleging a strip search by the Department of Corrections of more than 200 prisoners at Paremoremo was unlawful.

Two corrections officers were attacked by four maximum-security inmates on 19 October 2016 fuelled by home brew and armed with shanks.

A strip search was ordered the following day for the C block, where the attack took place, and D block.

On 21 October, strip searches began on prisoners in blocks A, B and the Special Unit.

At the time, management said the attack was organised and gang related and that it feared there were other weapons or home brew ingredients in other areas of the prison which warranted a cell and strip search.

Corrections residential manager Solomon Nui told the court an intelligence officer made it clear on the 21st there was no evidence gangs were involved.

But although there were physical and security barriers between blocks, there was reason to believe illegal materials could have been moved between them because the kitchen, staffed by some prisoners in block A, had access to the other blocks, he said.

Mr Solomon said the strip searches resumed despite the intelligence officers' comments.

The hearing continues today.

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