Newspaper photos highlight New Zealand PM's husband's friendship with gay doctor

Monday, September 18, 2006

Photographs published by the Investigate magazine and the newspaper Sunday Star Times has shown the Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark's husband, Peter Davis, being hugged and kissed by openly gay Auckland GP (General Practitioner) Dr. Ian Scott on election night 2005. The editor of Investigate, Ian Wishart, stated that at no time has Investigate ever suggested Davis is gay.

Wishart said that he has "Been targeting Mr Davis for months and has appealed for readers to send him details of his private life. [My] article makes no homosexual inferences and is merely an attempt to background Davis ahead of reports to follow."

Investigate has been publishing a series of stories involving Davis about an alleged incident overseas. They were tipped off by New Zealand law enforcement. "The picture is all about trying to find out more about the alleged incident. [I am] working through overseas sources to investigate the allegations. Regardless of what his investigation uncovers, the results will be published." Wishart also says there is more 'dirt' to come.

Clark has called it a "pack of lies" and labelled it as a smear campaign. "I've been aware of a smear campaign circulating for many months. Actively circulated by National Party people. And I've had countless friends phone me about it. It's been assiduously spread through circles in business, the law, accountants – it's just come from all quarters."

Dr. Scott is a close friends of the couple and was, according to Clark, "reasonably boisterous and drunk," when the situation occurred and Davis was "a bit disgusted," when he was kissed. "We have a particularly small group of very close friends . . . and Ian is right in there. He is one of our oldest friends as a couple. There is not a shred of truth to what Wishart says," said Clark.

"People just fall about themselves laughing when they see that was the great 'gay' allegation," Clark said.

Clark has partly blamed the Exclusive Brethren for the smear campaign as they were allegedly the ones who campaigned to unseat Labour and also allegations that they hired a private detective to follow Davis, the church has denied having any involvement. Clark has said "the smear campaign against her husband had spread far too wide for it to be the work of the Brethren alone," so she also blames Brash.

"I think the National Party has stooped to new levels with his leadership. I think we're seeing the absolute desperation of, actually, the far Right in politics, which feels it has a right to rule, couldn't cope with losing three elections in a row and there's a desperation and nastiness about it and it will stoop to anything," Clark said.

Brash said that he rejects and condemns the rumour-mongering and a spokesman said: "he [Brash] nor any of his MPs were involved in spreading them [rumours]. National believes the private lives of politicians and their families should be just that – private."

A source for the National Party said that people had phoned in with the rumour and National told them to "go away."

Gerry Brownlee, Deputy leader of National, denies any National Party involvement. He said: "Despite Don Brash coming under fire for admitting his marriage was in difficulties amid speculation he had an affair, National is not in a vengeful mode and rejects any such suggestion. The private lives of the families of MPs should be left out of the public eye."

Media experts are passing off Investigate's story as poor journalism. Including the head of New Zealand Broadcasting School, Paul Norris. Norris said: "The leader of a party has to expect their private life to impact on their leadership but in this case it seems Clark does not have a lot to answer to. The story has very little substance."

Clark has denied that a meeting between Brash to discuss toning down personal attacks will take place. But does say a meeting between party representatives could be arranged.

Clark has told the New Zealand Police that she believes that they have been followed by private detectives. The police are yet to confirm that they are investigating the claim as of Monday morning. Clark said that she has been "told by a number of sources that private investigators have been hired to follow both herself and her husband, Professor Peter Davis."