Was Tony Veitch being blackmailed?

I’ve said all along that this story is about more than Tony Veitch’s alleged assault and payout. There’s been reportage suggesting that several people outside those directly involved had some knowledge of the events of January 2006 and subsequently. What did they know and what did they do with that knowledge?

Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that it’s taken more than two years for the whole thing to blow open in a very public way.

Today (Saturday 19 July), Patrick Gower wrote in the Weekend Herald of discussions between Ms Dunne-Powell and a journalist in March 2007, prior to any negotiation of a financial deal between her and Tony Veitch.

In my original post on this issue [Tony Veitch, monster or victim?] I raised some questions about the anonymous sources being used by the Dominion Post. The whole thing seemed a bit murky, now I’m even more curious about those sources and also the “chain of evidence” between Ms Dunne-Powell, her friends and allies; and the journalist Stephen D’Antal.

The timelines on this whole saga are also interesting. I’m not satisfied that everyone is being totally upfront with the media, the public, or even themselves.

The incomplete timeline

The alleged assault of Ms Dunne-Powell has now been placed in January 2006 according to the Weekend Herald.

More than a year later Ms Dunne-Powell goes to the police and tells Mr D’Antal about the alleged assault before she tells the police. The journalist then signs a confidentiality agreement with her. Why would you tell a journalist something so personal and then get them to sign a “no talk” deal?

In mid 2007, during the Rugby World Cup, Ms Dunne-Powell contacts Tony Veitch seeking compensation. What was on her mind at this time?

Around the same time, or a little later, an anonymous letter is sent to Veitch’s girlfriend’s family. This is the most disturbing part of the story at this time:

Veitch’s close friend Paul Hancox told the Weekend Herald that shortly after his engagement to Zoe last year, her multimillionaire father Paul Halford received an anonymous letter making allegations about the incident.

[Kristin spoke to journalist, then police]

Later in 2007 an agreement is reached and Mr Veitch gives Kristin Dunne-Powell some money at the latest just before his February 2008 marriage to Zoe Halford.

In July 2008 the Dominion Post decides to run the story using anonymous sources who seem to know a lot about what happened. Throughout this whole period there was gossip about all of this and a couple of days ago a line in the NZ Herald that said one it that newspaper’s reporters had contacted Tony Veitch about the story 12 months ago, but he wouldn’t talk then.

Doesn’t look a bit strange? There are gaps in the record and many unanswered questions. For instance:

Who sent the letter to Mr Halford? Indeed, was there a letter? Did Mr Halford keep it? Did he take it to the police, as it clearly implied a threat of some sort?

Who gave information to the Dom Post and what was it? Who’s been talking to the Herald and what did they say?

Who is Stephen D’Antal?

The Weekend Herald describes D’Antal as “a New Zealand-based journalist who has broken a number of local and international celebrity exclusives”. He’s fairly elusive and exclusive himself. A normally reliable google search turns up very little. It shows that Mr D’Antal is co-author, with Garry Jenkins, of a 1999 book about Dame Kiri Ti Kanawa. There’s also one entry for Stephen D’Antal at a website called Access Interviews. It’s a recent piece for the British Mail on Sunday: an interview with Alice Gower about her relationship with the gay Anglican priest who recently married his gay Anglican priest boyfriend.

An older google entry is The man who fell 12,000 feet from February 2007, also for the Daily Mail. The most recent googled item placing D’Antal in New Zealand is this 2005 story from the English tabloid the Sun. Hardly a stunning portfolio. For someone who supposedly moves and shakes in the celebrity world, Mr D’Antal keeps a low profile.

Was Tony Veitch being blackmailed?

I’ve got no idea if Mr Veitch was being blackmailed, but I’m sitting here shaking my head and worrying at this like a dog with a bone.

It’s Saturday evening, I’d much rather be drinking champagne and eating oysters, so I’m going to stop worrying for now and see what tomorrow’s headlines might bring.

11 Responses to Was Tony Veitch being blackmailed?

  1. Cecelia says:

    Today’s papers on-line show a slightly different angle on the events you mention above. But they do start to paint a picture of a woman who was stalking Tony. Where would the Herald Dominion Post have obtained that information – from the Holmes interview (Herald?) from Tony’s friends?

    The angle in Public Address was that the basic facts of the assault must be true because they had not been denied. No matter how the facts were released, Tony Veitch had committed an appalling crime and should be made accountable for it. The almost 1000 pages of discussion that ensued contained little speculation as to the context of the assault or of the media’s role in packaging the information in a certain way.

    Hmmm

    EM says: Thanks for this Cecelia.
    The story links referred to:
    Valentine’s visit by Veitch’s ex
    Veitch case: secret details revealed

    I agree that we have to wonder about the arc on this story. Is the rehabilitation of Tony Veitch is this week’s spin? Someone’s working overtime to paint over the original pictures.

  2. poneke says:

    Aha! I was wondering where the DomPost got the story from and your article here reveals it.

    Bernadette Courtney, the DomPost executive who wrote the Veitch piece, is a long-standing friend of Mr D’Antal and, I believe, knew him when both worked as journalists in Britain (both are British immigrants here).

    D’Antal is a talented tabloid writer with a good turn of phrase.

  3. You could be right Poneke. It might be a smoking gun!

    I also wonder what information the Sunday News had that they were warned not to reveal.

    Sunday News last night was warned by high-powered lawyers about one of the rumours. They said it was untrue and should we publish it, we would be issued with a defamation suit.

    The gossip, which has been widely circulated since the saga broke a fortnight ago, surrounded the reason for the argument between the two at Veitch’s Kohimarama, Auckland, home in 2006.

    [Scandal grows as Veitch quits]

    It is an interesting yarn, with lots of twisted threads – many yet to unravel I suspect.

  4. Mars says:

    Thanks for continuing to analyse this Ethical Martini. You are, indeed, like “a dog with a bone”. Me too! How could we let this story go? It is one of those really sad stories, which has so many rich ingredients. I’m female by the way, and have raised this story in conversations with about 12 women (aged 30 to 45) over the past week. None of them had been victims of domestic violence and their views were fairly similar. None wanted to watch Tony on TV again and most wanted to know why his former partner didn’t lay a complaint when the assault happened. I did slip in a comment about women being shamed by domestic violence but for women never affected by anything like that it was a hard concept to grasp. Anyway, returning to the those rich ingredients that make this story so alive; how can TVNZ expect us to believe its senior management met with Tony Veitch about the “incident” but never actually asked for details about what happened? Alongside this, how can they expect us to believe they decided not to brief (warn) the CEO. Hello?

  5. […] at AUT University in Auckland, has been wondering much the same thing on his blog, Ethical Martini. In a post at the weekend, he wrote: “I’ve said all along that this story is about more than Tony Veitch’s alleged assault and […]

  6. poneke says:

    I asked Bernadette whether Mr D’Antal was her source and like every good journalist she declined to discuss her sources. Though did not deny it.

    I have written about this and my take on the implications of the Veitch affair for journalism:

    http://poneke.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/veitch/

  7. insider says:

    If this were a case of attempted blackmail, I wonder if the Dompost has ended up helping future blackmailers. It seems to raise some important ethical issues.

    Scenario could be : letter threatenign to reveal a story written presumably demanding cash for silence; response is “publish and be damned”, no money changes hands; info leaked to media; media publishes ruining a career and effectively becoming complicit in fulfilling a blackmail threat.

    What does that say to anyone subject of blackmail threats in the future? It says pay up because the media may not act responsibly. What do the police usually advise on blackmail threats?

    I wonder how carefully the DP thought about the consequences before publishing this info.

  8. Yes, insider, the scenario you outline does suggest itself. I don’t think the Dom Post would have been complicit any such action by a third party, but the story as it stands lends itself to speculation.

  9. […] 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 […]

  10. […] [Was Tony Veitch being blackmailed?] […]

  11. Lyn says:

    Of course he was. I feel sorry for the guy. I wish him all the best in his rise back to fame. You can do it Tony.

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