The best-selling book Louise Nicholas: my story was published in 2007, the year after media investigations led to historical sex charges being laid against two former police officers, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton, and Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards. The men were found not guilty of raping Nicholas when she was a teenager. The jury was not aware that Shipton and Schollum were already in prison for gang rape. Rickards was forced to resign from the police.
The book was written by Nicholas and Philip Kitchin, an investigative journalist who began looking into the case in the mid-1990s. He had received a tip off about the actions of John Dewar, former chief inspector in the Rotorua criminal investigation branch, who was later convicted of attempting to obstruct or defeat the course of justice in earlier rape trials, after Nicholas first approached police in 1993. Kitchin eventually tracked Nicholas down and in 2004 the Dominion Post and TVNZ jointly broke the story, resulting in the 2006 trial and a Commission of Inquiry into police conduct led by Dame Margaret Bazley. The landmark Bazley report, released in 2007, described a culture in which sexual assault claims were often mishandled and treated with scepticism.
Although Nicholas’s long quest for justice was only partially successful, the case demonstrated how investigative journalism could help to hold powerful individuals and institutions to account. As the New Zealand Herald commented in 2007, Nicholas had ‘won in the most important court of all – the court of public opinion.’ (New Zealand Herald, ‘New Zealander of the Year: Louise Nicholas, 15 December 2007).
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