Labor senator Nova Peris has revealed that personal emails published in News Ltd papers on Wednesday, which imply a relationship by the then-married athlete with fellow Olympian Ato Boldon, may have been part of a blackmail attempt in the wake of a child custody dispute.
Delivering an personal explanation to the Senate this afternoon in response to claims that she had misused public funds in bringing Boldon to Australia, Peris said “I have done nothing wrong”.
The Northern Territory ALP senator’s voice wavered as she delivered an emotional defence of her reputation and family, pointing out that Boldon had called the 2010 emails fake.
Peris said she could not confirm their authenticity, but nor did she deny she wrote the, at times, sexually explicit emails.
She claimed a representative of an “aggrieved party” involved in the child access dispute had threatened to make them public.
The senator claimed it was “an attempt to extract money and embarrass me and my family” and “part of a long-running family dispute”.
“On the 19 October 2010, the aggrieved party in the financial estate and child access dispute involving me and my children emailed and revealed he had in his possession a folder of information pertaining to Mr Boldon’s visit to Australia,” she said.
“I did not realise at the time he was referring to these emails.”
“On the 21st of March this year, a representative of that aggrieved party emailed me and said that unless his wishes were granted, she would take such action, and I quote ‘will only result in causing major trauma for everyone, especially the children and damage the reputation of some stakeholders’.
“Three weeks ago, on the 9th of October, I received a further email from the representative of this aggrieved party, the first line read, ‘I am sending this communication to you to ensure there is no mistake as to who is responsible for releasing the information in relation to you’.
“With legal options exhausted, this party has turned to the media,” she said.
Earlier this month, Peris contacted federal police who are investigating the matter.
She denied any wrongdoing.
“I am completely overwhelmed by the support I have received by so many Australians,” Peris said.
She says she has spoken to Cathy Freeman, who she allegedly called “dumb” in an email, and the two continued to be friends.
“What I can say is that the views attributed to me… certainly don’t reflect my views, they don’t reflect my values.”
Peris said any accusations that she had misused public funds were “baseless”.
‘I stand here today proud of who I am,” she said.
“My children are my universe and I will protect them.”
Meanwhile, Boldon has threatened legal action over the story, labelling it a “malicious misrepresentation” of his Athletics Australia visit to mentor young athletes. In response to allegation that the pair had a tryst, he told told Channel 7 he had “no relationship of that sort with Nova”.
Athletics Australia said they paid for Boldon to come to Australia, as well as all reasonable expenses relating to his visit and were “delighted” with how the Trinididian athlete fulfilled his obligations.
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