Suppressed names short-change us in reports about a naughty step-father and a political smear campaign

Lest any of the good people of Eketahuna North suspect otherwise, even for a brief moment, let’s have this on the record.

Alf is not the bloke found guilty on charges of indecently assaulting his stepdaughter.

Nor is he Don Brash’s love child.

Mrs Grumble – fair to say – urged Alf not to make this declaration.

She said it was only attention-seeking. Moreover it was thoroughly unnecessary, because it would be obvious to constituents that he is not the mystery feller in either case, because –

* He is still married to her, his first wife, and they do not have step-children;

* He has never been a national figure (she unkindly said “and you never will be”); and

* He is bloody near as old as Don Brash.

But Alf was keen to ensure there are no misunderstandings and no smear campaigns in his neck of the woods.

He points out that his concerns about becoming a figure of suspicion and the subject of gossip is the inevitable result of names being suppressed.

In one case reported this weekend, the courts have done the suppressing.

A former national figure found guilty on three charges of indecently assaulting his stepdaughter raised his eyebrows and shook his head in disbelief when a Nelson District Court jury delivered its verdict yesterday.

The public gallery was empty yesterday apart from the sole supporter of the man, who had flown from Australia to give evidence in support of his friend.

The man looked shocked at hearing the reply of “guilty” three times when the judge asked the jury if they had reached a verdict.

Fair to say, the assaults allegedly happened at a Nelson house on December 30, 2009, and Alf can prove he was elsewhere at that time.

The Crown said

… the man touched the girl on the breasts while they were watching television in the living room.

He indecently assaulted the girl later, after she had gone to bed, by touching her leg and genitalia and then kissing her on the back when she rolled away, the Crown said.

The defence maintained that the events did not take place.

The jury had taken 14 hours to reach its verdicts, and deliberated over three days since starting at 4pm on Wednesday.

It is all very well for Mrs Grumble to say that Alf would never ever be suspected because he is such a staunch upholder of law and order and is especially damning of bastards who sexually assault children and members of their families.

But hey – that Graham Capill bugger was a dab hand at giving the impression he denounced such behaviour, too.

And look where he finished up.

The former cleric and politician – he led the now-defunct Christian Heritage Party – was convicted in 2005 of multiple sexual offences against girls under 12 years of age.

The last Alf heard, he was still serving a prison sentence.

In the case down there in Nelson involving a former national figure, Judge Behrens granted final name suppression to protect the identity of the victim.

The judge said the victim would be devastated if her identity was revealed. He said any person who published the accused’s name in any media would be in contempt of court.

He remanded the man on bail until June 16 for sentencing, and called for a pre-sentence report.

The defence lawyer declined to comment on the case and whether he would be appealing.

Much more titillating this morning is the Sunday Star-Times report that ACT Party leader Don Brash is the subject of a smear campaign.

The campaign has seen widespread rumours of affairs and even a “love child”. Last night Brash dismissed the accusations as appalling, while commentators labelled them a “new low” on the Kiwi political landscape.

Brash’s supporters accuse Rodney Hide of being the source of the rumours, a charge Hide has denied.

The man named as Brash’s son – who the Star-Times will not name – said the rumours were “fanciful”. He said he was aware of the rumours being spread about him by Hide supporters, and that the “mud-slinging represented a new low in New Zealand politics”.

Hide said he was not aware of any rumours, let alone being behind any smear campaign.

Last night Brash said he was staggered by the rumours, especially given that when he first met the family, the man at the centre of the allegations was already two-and-a-half or three.

“I’m not prepared to discuss this kind of issue, it’s just not appropriate at all. All I can say is categorically, [name withheld] is not my son.”

The newspaper says the stories began circulating at Easter just as Brash came out saying he was to take on Hide for Act’s leadership.

Other rumours circulating around the Brash coup include suggestions his campaign was financed by multimillionaire businesswoman Diane Foreman.

Both have categorically denied that.

Brash said he had been around long enough to know that he was a target now that he was back on the political scene. But the smear campaign was a signal the upcoming election could be as personal and as polarising as the 2005 campaign, when Brash led National.

Alf is delighted to see good sense being expressed by his mate David Farrar, who says the country is headed for a more polarising debate than the bland campaign between Phil Goff and John Key that most commentators were tipping at the start of the year.

He said no amount of rumours would shake Brash’s electoral appeal. “He could have half-a-dozen love children and it still wouldn’t change anything.”

Maybe. But Alf wonders if Brash’s somewhat donnish image is not greatly enhanced and his approval rating lifted if red-blooded blokes see him as the sort of feller who has left a few love children scattered around the country.

Mind you, Mrs Grumble is warning him against laying claim to having a few love children himself.

She reminded him that “love child” is another way of saying “bastard”.

She also said not all bastards in her experience are love children.

2 Responses to Suppressed names short-change us in reports about a naughty step-father and a political smear campaign

  1. homepaddock says:

    “She also said not all bastards in her experience are love children”

    Mrs Grumble has a way with words, have you thought of asking her to help you with you speeches?

    • Alf Grumble says:

      She does have a way with words. You have a way with words, too, Ele, and normally Alf greatly admires your skill. But on this occasion he senses the hint of a suggestion that Mrs Grumble – a woman, dammit – might be the superior wordsmith in the Grumble household.

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