What a fascinating account of the Tony Veitch affair in the Herald on Sunday this week. Tony’s partner, Zoe has given an amazing interview to the paper in which the curious issue of Kristin Dunne-Powell’s motive bubbles close to the surface of the text, but without ever being made explicit.
There’s a similar story in the Sunday Star Times by Donna Chisholm, but with none of the real impact. ["We'll fight to bitter end"]
Jane Phare’s story in the HoS stops short of suggesting anything really sinister, but a picture emerges of a young woman obsessed with a failed relationship and driven by something unhealthy:
Zoe Veitch, 27, said her husband’s former partner, Dunne-Powell, had had a “hold over us for the majority of our relationship”.
Speaking publicly for the first time, Veitch told the Herald on Sunday yesterday that Dunne-Powell appeared to react each time she saw Tony Veitch or the couple together, or if they were photographed socially.
“There was always something from her within a couple of days. It was always very reactionary.”
Veitch said that she had hoped once Dunne-Powell was married “she wouldn’t be bothering us so much”. “I’ve always said to Tony that if she is happy in her own marriage she will leave us alone.” [Veitch's wife strikes back]
Another curious twist in this story and the word on everyone’s lips this afternoon…
Blackmail. It’s ugly, it’s wild, it’s totally speculation, but the idea is now out there. I wrote about this angle about a month ago [Was Tony Veitch being blackmailed?], and today’s story in the HoS does little to dispel this line of thinking:
It was last October, on the day when the broadcaster, 34, was due to fly out to France of the Rugby World Cup, that a letter arrived from Dunne-Powell’s lawyer asking him for a payment of $127,000 in compensation and to cover lost earnings.
By early December 2007 the amount had “ballooned” to $150,000 and was non-negotiable, said Veitch. The new demand arrived within days of photographs of Tony Veitch and his St Heliers home featuring in the Herald Homes liftout and a photo of the couple, taken at the Qantas Media Awards, being published in social pages. The tone of the final letter was “this is it or else”, she said.
She and Veitch, their lawyer and her family “sat round the table” to discuss what to do.
“It was within weeks of our wedding, and we had friends and family coming from all over the world. We did what we thought was the right thing at the time. In hindsight, maybe if we hadn’t given in at that stage, you know, we may be in a different situation now, I don’t know.”
Veitch is unsure why Dunne-Powell laid a complaint two-and-a-half years after the incident but assumes her husband’s former partner has not let go of the relationship.
The other interesting issue is the ‘trial by media’ aspect. Ms Veitch told Jane Phare that John Campbell and a TV3 crew had arrived at their Herne Bay home on Friday within minutes of the police turning up with a search warrant. The Sunday News is also reporting that broadcaster and columnist Paul Holmes has also had a visit from the police seeking information about anything that Tony Veitch may have told him in that now infamous ‘mate-to-mate’ interview.
There is a great deal of media interest in this case; of course fueled by the celebrity aspect, but also because of the nature of the allegations that have been widely (if not wildly) reported.
I would think that both sides have some high-power legal and PR bods in their corners and that weekly strategy meetings are now part of everyone’s routines. If he is charged, can Tony Veitch ever get a ‘fair’ trial with all this media attention? Is the weekend interview an attempt to put the Veitch case out there, ‘just in case’?
We might know soon enough. There’s speculation that Tony Veitch might be charged as early as Monday, but no indication yet from the police if that’s going to happen, or what the likely charges might be.
One thing I am pretty certain about though; I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Zoe Veitch has chosen this weekend to go public with her version of the last two years’ events. Both Sunday stories paint a reasonably sympathetic picture and in the absence of any statement by the complainant; it puts a very Veitch-friendly spin on the case.
Despite this, I don’t think that ugly, startling word will go away anytime soon.