Red carpet bodyguard failed security check

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012
Thomas Gibson
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
'PETER KNOWS MY FACE': Thomas Gibson, in checked shirt, with Sir Peter Jackson at the Hobbit premiere in Wellington.

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The bodyguard providing personal security for Sir Peter Jackson on The Hobbit red carpet had failed a criminal history check and should not have been granted a licence to work at the high-profile event.

Thomas Andrew Gibson, 42, former director of Wellington's failed Temperance Bar, is due to appear in court today on an assault charge.

Last Wednesday, he shadowed Jackson on the red carpet, as he has done at other Wellington premieres, including The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Lovely Bones. He has also guarded David Beckham and Elijah Wood.

Gibson was contracted by Jamie Hood Wilson of Chameleon Event Management, which organised the red-carpet event, not by Jackson.

He submitted an application to the Justice Ministry for a temporary certificate of approval and accompanying security licence badge on October 9, and was sent them the next day.

But after an investigation by The Dominion Post, the ministry admitted Gibson should not have received the licence.

Wayne Newall, national manager of tribunals at the ministry, said a staff member accidentally approved the application, before realising his mistake.

"Mr Gibson . . . did not disclose that he had a disqualifying criteria in his application form," Mr Newall said.

"The processing officer issued him a three-month temporary certificate . . . Later that day, the officer noticed Mr Gibson had disqualifying criteria . . . [and] immediately cancelled the certificate, but by this stage it had already been sent to be printed and the temporary certificate was sent to Mr Gibson.

"The authority is now looking at the validity of Mr Gibson's temporary certificate."

The ministry has begun an internal investigation.

Security licensing regulations were changed in April 2011, before the Rugby World Cup, to ensure private security guards were "suitably qualified to carry out that work . . . [and] do not behave in ways that are contrary to the public interest".

To qualify for a licence, applicants need to meet certain character requirements, some of which are double-checked by police.

Police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said there were several markers that might prevent an applicant being licensed.

"This could include . . . violent, sexual or dishonest behaviour. Also considered is information held, such as active charges."

Gibson, a triple black belt Zen Do Kai sensei, was due to appear in Wellington District Court today for a full defended hearing on an assault charge, but the charge was dropped by police.

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His lawyer, Andrew Davie, said police had intimated this week that they would drop the charge. 

Gibson was also declared bankrupt in 2010, owing $2 million to creditors.

On the red carpet, he said he was initially employed as a liaison between security guards, but days before the event he was asked to step in as a bodyguard "because Peter knows my face".

"As far as I'm concerned, we put an application in with everything correct and they issued a licence. From my perspective I've had a licence as required, and I don't see anything to change that."

Jackson's spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, said the legality of Gibson's presence had not been known.

"We don't know anything of his history and, short of a couple of red carpets over the years, I don't know much about him at all."

Gibson is general manager of Gibson Security. Director David Wilson said the company made sure employees were certified before jobs.

"A lot of effort has been put in to make sure Andrew got his certificate. We make sure the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. There are not many people in the country with his experience . . . Why would Peter Jackson not use him?"

Mr Hood Wilson of Chameleon said the ministry was to blame. "I did my [security] checks and unfortunately it was an error by the Ministry of Justice."

THE SECURITY DETAIL

February 22, 2010: Andrew Gibson declared bankrupt after the Temperance Bar in Cambridge Tce, of which he was a director, collapsed owing $2 million to creditors.

October 9, 2012: Applies to the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority for a temporary certificate of approval for personal security.

October 10: Application approved by the Justice Ministry.

November 26: Gibson ejects a TV3 reporter from a Hobbit fans party, after the reporter asked Elijah Wood a question.

November 28: He provides security to Sir Peter Jackson and the director's 16-year-old daughter, Katie.

November 30: The ministry finds it had made a mistake and Gibson should not have been sent a licence.

December 5: Gibson due to appear in Wellington District Court for a full defended hearing on an assault charge.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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