Real Housewives of Auckland: Star's husband consults with lawyers in racial stoush fallout

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Michelle Blanchard and Julia Sloane photographed before the incident. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Michelle Blanchard and Julia Sloane photographed before the incident. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

The husband of Real Housewives of Auckland star Julia Sloane has renewed his defence of his wife as fallout from her use of a racial slur on the show deepens.

Sloane referred to fellow housewife Michelle Blanchard, who is of English and Jamaican descent, as a "boat n*****" during a boozy filming session on a luxury yacht in Queensland over a long weekend in May.

The incident is due to appear in tonight's episode.

Sloane's husband, investment banker Michael Lorimer, said today he had consulted lawyers about how to respond to Blanchard's reaction to the incident and again criticised the show's production team for their handling of the situation.

READ MORE: Rachel Smalley: Broadcaster boosting Real Housewives slur for ratings
Lorimer claimed Blanchard swore at his wife and alleges she threw a glass during the incident in Port Douglas, which he said was caught on camera.

"It was in the edit I saw."

Lorimer claimed his wife called him immediately and he advised her to go straight to the Queensland police.

"She was too nervous and the producers talked her out of it," he alleged.

Lorimer claimed they didn't want her to mention Blanchard's response and said they would address both issues fairly in the relevant episode.

He said that, in his view, they had not done that. Sloane was comforted by three other housewives after the catfight but that too was left out of the edit he had seen.

Lorimer was also angry the producers hadn't included a scene filmed after the cast returned to New Zealand in which he discussed Blanchard's reaction.

"[The producers] have completely overplayed the "boat n***** and completely underplayed the [reaction].

Blanchard today referred Herald inquiries to the PR company for Bravo, the channel which airs the show.

After receiving specific questions about Lorimer's claims and how Blanchard reacted to the slur, the company said it had nothing to add to a statement issued on Saturday.

That acknowledged there had been an incident involving an "offensive comment" which had been taken seriously.

"Bravo has given much consideration to ensuring the events are accurately represented, in order that the context of the remark and subsequent events can be fully understood.

"While the nature of Bravo programming is unscripted, it is a deeply regrettable incident, which we are endeavouring to deal with in a responsible manner."

The slur was made after fellow housewife Gilda Kirkpatrick asked Blanchard for a hand-up from below decks, prompting Sloane to comment: "She's not your boat n*****.

The comment was made off-camera but picked up by a microphone.

According to urbandictionary.com, a boat n***** is usually a middle class white girl, who goes crewing on a large cruising or racing yacht, usually in their gap year. This is sometimes in the hope of meeting a crewman from a middle class background and income bracket for like-minded travel, fun and sex.

Lorimer said alcohol may have been a factor in the incident. The cast had cocktails in the morning, wine for lunch and continued drinking on the boat.

The fallout deepened after Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy waded into the controversy today.

Devoy said the incident showed that some New Zealanders still thought it was fine to say ignorant, offensive and racist things and it was up to the rest of the community to tell them it was not okay.

"I do not think that ignorant, overt racist behaviour is part of Kiwi culture so we all need to call it out when it rears its very ugly head. People like Julia need to understand that using words like that is not how we roll here. That is not us.

"I haven't seen this episode yet but am interested to see what the rest of the housewives and film crew did when Julia referred to Michelle using a hateful racist word. Does anyone challenge her? Does anyone tell her to pull her head in?

"I'm sorry for Michelle but this episode will educate a lot of people about so-called casual racism. The thing about casual racism is it never feels casual when it's happening to you or your loved ones."Lorimer said his wife took full responsibility for her "foolish racial slur". She had apologised four times to Blanchard and felt deeply remorseful.

But he said Blanchard should take responsibility for her reaction.

In an interview with The Spinoff yesterday, Blanchard said Sloane "just doesn't want to own what has come out of her mouth".

She dismissed Lorimer's suggestion the production team was irresponsible and his assertion the comment wasn't intended to be racist.

"Put it this way: Michael should come down to Harlem or Brooklyn, where I've just been, and stand there with a sign saying 'boat n****** needed for a hand on a boat'. See how long he could stand there without getting shot."

The incident polarised the cast, Lorimer said. Sloane left Port Douglas on a separate flight to most of the housewives, accompanied only by champagne-selling cat-lover Anne Batley Burton.

Calling Blanchard a "boat n*****" was wrong but he believed the comment had been taken out of context to "make Julia look bad".

"We aren't racists - we just spent a week in Rarotonga drinking with the locals, not swanky bars."

Tomorrow's episode is the sixth in the series which follows six wealthy Auckland women and has featured tears, tantrums, glamorous parties and controversy.

- NZ Herald

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