Shamed prosecutor Warwick Reid says new legal firm is just a hobby

Warwick Reid, jailed for taking bribes in HK, has been working as a bus driver to pay bills

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 3:16pm

Disgraced former top prosecutor Warwick Reid has removed his image and most of the content from a website promoting his "legal services" business in New Zealand after an outcry from the Hong Kong legal community.

The former acting director of public prosecutions - jailed for eight years in 1990 for taking HK$12.4 million in bribes - told the Post the ReidLegal company was only a hobby and he had been working as a bus driver to make ends meet.

But despite his assurances he tells every client about his crimes, the website was last night still carrying a biography that fails to mention his convictions.

Yesterday the Post reported that Reid, 65, who has also served time for attempting to pervert the course of justice, had reinvented himself as a "legal expert". News of his latest venture provoked anger and astonishment from senior figures and former colleagues in Hong Kong's legal community. They said that because Reid's crimes struck at the "very heart'' of the legal system, he should not be allowed to provide legal advice or services to anyone, especially if they are not aware of his past.

In an interview with the Post from his home in Tauranga, on New Zealand's North Island, Reid said he had removed his photo from the site.

He said he had refocused the website on the work he does in employment law, an area in which he is legally entitled to work - even as a struck-off lawyer. "I have never undertaken a case in the employment courts without telling people [about my past]," said Reid.

"Under the employment relations act anyone can represent someone else in an employment dispute and that's all that I am doing now. There is no prohibition on ex-criminals doing that sort of work so I am just using some of the legal skills I have acquired in the past.

"I guess the transparency argument is a fair one and I'm considering putting that on the website. I tell everyone who comes to me about my past and so far no one has chosen to walk away," said Reid.

New Zealand Law Society spokesman Geoff Adlam said: "From our inquiries we are satisfied he is not practising as a lawyer and is not giving advice in the areas which are reserved for lawyers."