[EXCLUSIVE] Cook speaks – How he worked the Len Brown scandal

Is Bevan Chuang an innocent pawn in a dastardly right-wing conspiracy to unseat Auckland?s mayor or a delusional attention seeker?? In the first of this two-part piece, the journalist who helped break this story delivers his verdict.

By Stephen? Cook

It was 18 months ago that I first met Bevan Chuang.

She had a curious first name, I remember thinking at the time. All the Bevan?s I?d ever known had been blokes.

And it was a bloke that this Bevan was after. Well, not so much a bloke but a sperm donor to father a child in the Chinese year of the Dragon, the most auspicious sign in the 12-year astrological cycle.

Little did we know that at the time the mildly attractive 32-year-old was involved in a torrid affair with one of this country?s most powerful men ? lascivious Len Brown.

Whoever coined the phrase ?from even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent? wasn?t wrong.

As we all came to discover this week after her sexcapades with Brown in the mayoral office, what Bevan Chuang was looking for was literally right under her nose ? or to be more specific just a few inches below.

For the next couple of weeks I followed Bevan Chuang?s very public quest to find a donor ? and what better forum than Facebook for all the drama to unfold.

Would Juliet find her Romeo? Would they fall in love and have lots of little dragon babies together? Would Bevan?s poor grammar and bad spelling ever improve?

Alas not.

I was quickly losing interest in Bevan?s story. ?The rambling late-night Facebook posts about life, love and possibly, now I come to think about it, lascivious Len were starting to bore me.? You could just tell there?d be no happy ending for this girl with the guy?s name. ?

And yes I don?t mind admitting I was still puzzled about the whole name thing. It didn?t make sense to me and still doesn?t today.

Why would someone call their daughter Bevan? Strange. I could understand Bella, Betty or even Barbara but Bevan?

I got to thinking whether this Mrs Chuang had other daughters?

Maybe just maybe Bevan had a sister called Ben and another one called Butch.

This, I suspected, would remain one of life?s little mysteries.

Bevan and I remained Facebook friends, but it wasn?t till three weeks or so ago that we would see each other again.

My former colleague at Truth, Cam Slater, had contacted me to say Chuang had a story to tell ? and he wanted me to tell it.

Slater was vague on detail. For him, that was unusual.

With Slater the devil?s always in the detail.

So I contacted Chuang and we arranged to meet on a Sunday morning in Ponsonby, six days before the local body elections.

She?d wanted to meet at 9am. I said too early for a Sunday, how about 10am? She reluctantly agreed ? and then of course was late.

But she still had time to send me a text alleging Brown had been ?prosecuted ? or at least investigated? ? for a supposed incident involving his ex-wife years and years ago. It was a scurrilous allegation, but not uncommon during an election campaign.

I wondered why Bevan had it in for Len.

?So what?s all this about,? I asked her?

?It?s about Len Brown and what he?s been doing,? she replied.

Before she can answer, we are joined at the table by a male friend of Chuang?s.

?I?m Luigi,? he says.

?And who exactly are you and what are you doing here?? I ask.

Luigi tells me he?s with John Palino?s team.

Now things are starting to make sense.

Bevan continues. She tells me Len Brown has been ?flirting? with her. On how many occasions, I ask.

Two, she reckons.

I tell her if she wants to bring down the mayor she?s going to have to do a damn sight better than that.

Flirting , I tell her, is a matter of perception. What one person thinks is flirting, another can put down to simply being friendly.

Luigi can see my point, but suggests I put a story out there anyway. ?We were thinking of an American-style smear campaign, smoke and mirrors,? he says to me.

?Just put it out there and see if it gets picked up,? he adds.

Bevan likes the idea and thinks it might work.

I don?t and let them know there?s no way I or Cam Slater would ever be involved in something like that.

I ask her what evidence she has to suggest Brown?s conduct towards her had at any stage been inappropriate. Were there text messages, letters ? anything sexually suggestive to back up her claims?

She then concedes there?s nothing in the story. Luigi?s not happy. We now know why.

After the meeting I call Slater and tell him there?s no story. There?s no argument from him. That?s the thing about Cam. Everyone knows his politics. If you?re a ratbag, a degenerate, a conman, a kiddy fiddler or a ?sicko then don?t expect any sympathy from Cam Slater.

You?re going ?under the bus?.

But while he can be tough, relentless and uncompromising, Cam?s also fair.

No one goes under the bus Cam?s driving without damn good reason.

There?s factions in the media who dislike him. There?s other?s who despise him.

They hate the fact a simple blogger has the ability to rattle so many cages.

And then there?s the likes of respected media commentator and ethical standards expert David Fisher for whom Slater has become something of a personal obsession.

Fisher monitors Slater?s every fart and whistle. When Slater farts, Fisher whistles. Most of the time it?s Dixie.

And who picks up the tab. Fisher?s employer, of course ? NZ Herald.