New claims may save Brown

… so goes the headline on the Opinion piece by Colin Espiner

The extraordinary new claims from his former mistress, Bevan Chuang, that she was pressured by his political enemies into revealing details of her affair with the mayor may just be enough to save his political bacon.

It doesn’t change the fact that Brown has cheated. It doesn’t change the fact that he has betrayed his caucus, severely damaged his reputation and hobbled his mayoralty. A pall still hangs over his political future. But at least he may still have one.

In a story that is rapidly becoming an American-style sex scandal of Anthony Weiner proportions, today’s big reveal is that Chuang was also allegedly sleeping with the enemy – Brown’s enemy, Luigi Wewege, a member of mayoral candidate John Palino’s election team.

Chuang claims that once Wewege found out about her relationship with Brown, he began piling on the pressure for her to reveal the affair and destroy the Mayor in the run-up to last Saturday’s local body elections.

Wewege categorically denies this. He says they were just friends who sometimes went to the same functions, and that they were never in a relationship.

And yet Facebook messages between the pair provided by Chuang to the New Zealand Herald cast doubt on Wewege’s denials. According to these messages, Wewege told Chuang he loved her, couldn’t wait to lay in bed with her, and that she could change the election result if she could just provide “a shrewd piece of evidence”.

“The New Zealand Herald”?  Trying to up the word count are you Colin?

But we’re all focusing on the wrong issues here.  This isn’t about the salacious bits.  Colin does get around to the meat eventually  

Yet both sides are slinging the mud. Brown’s camp claims both Slaters are “donkey deep” in the whole scandal and have been busy manipulating the media coverage. Brown’s people say Cameron Slater and the story’s author, former Truth tabloid journalist Stephen Cook, have lost control of Chuang and the story.

To them, Chuang has been but a pawn in a Right-wing plot to get Brown and oust him from Town Hall. To which Slater jeers: “Yeah, right, we planted her with Brown two years ago. It was all a set-up, a vast right-wing conspiracy.”

He’s being sarcastic, of course, and he has a point. Brown and Chuang are adults, and they made their own decisions and their own mistakes. But this is a story that is as much about politics as it is about sex. Slater has never denied he wants Brown gone. But to him, Chuang played with fire and got burned – and now can’t cope with the fallout.

The as-yet unanswered question is who sent the messages that seemed to push Chuang over the edge. The phone number they came from goes to a generic answerphone message and has now been disconnected.

Both sides deny sending them. But it seems at the very least coincidental that the messages were sent on the same day Slater posted a veiled reference on his blog to Brown needing to “stop smiling at Asian beauties”.

That day, last Tuesday, was also the same day Brown says he told his wife he’d been having an affair.

Whoever sent those text messages, it appears they were the catalyst for everything that happened next.

It’s true.  Had they not sent those intimidating anonymous texts, this story would never have been published.  It set everything in motion, and at that stage was the core motivation for Bevan to make a stand.

I understand she now has some degree of remorse, in spite of the numerous warnings Stephen and I gave her at the time.

But the fact remains that she’s the one who cut this loose.

And that only happened because she felt she had to respond to being threatened.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.