Veitch suspended from Radio Sport

By Eloise Gibson, David Eames

Tony Veitch has been suspended from Radio Sport, his employers announced today.

Bill Francis at the Radio Network said Veitch will be suspended while investigations are carried out by the company.

He said more information is needed than is currently available.

Mr Francis said assault and violence were not condoned by the network.

Earlier today, Women's Refuge said Veitch had sent the message to young men that there are two levels of justice, depending on how much money a person has.

Spokeswoman Catherine Delore said Veitch's comments at his press conference yesterday could be seen by young men as proof that with money, you can avoid trouble.

"He hasn't faced any criminal charges and has been able, for two years, to keep it secret and continue his high profile, high paying jobs," Ms Delore said.

She said Mr Veitch also gave up the chance to denounce violence against women but instead he chose to focus on himself.

"It's very concerning that while he said there are no excuses, he went on to say that he had two jobs, he was very tired and was on medication.

He went on to try and give mitigating factors," Ms Delore said.

She said Mr Veitch's appearance yesterday was stage managed and he refused to answer questions.

Police have said they will take a closer look at broadcaster Veitch's public admission yesterday that he "lashed out in anger" at his former partner.

But a prosecution is unlikely to proceed without the co-operation of his victim.

Spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty today said an investigator had been assigned to look into "allegations and admissions" of an assault by Veitch. She said police had not received a formal complaint.

Last night she said investigators would assess Veitch's statement before deciding whether they would invite the woman he struck, Kristin Dunne-Powell, to make a complaint.

Even then, a prosecution was not a foregone conclusion, she said.

Auckland University criminal law expert Associate Professor Scott Optican said last night that Veitch's admission that he "lashed out in anger" at Ms Dunne-Powell stopped short of confessing to an assault.

Ms Dunne-Powell is reported to have suffered four cracked vertebrae in the assault. She reportedly spent months away from her job as general manager of marketing at Vodafone and later had to stop work.

"Saying 'I'm sorry, I did something wrong, I lashed out', is not enough," Professor Optican said.

"He would have to admit the facts that amount to a crime - physically assaulting her and causing her harm."

Police would have a difficult time laying charges without Ms Dunne-Powell's co-operation.

Even if the police obtained hospital records showing she had been assaulted, they would also need evidence to show who had assaulted her.

"In cases of domestic violence, in 99 per cent of cases the evidence can only come from the victim," Professor Optican said.

TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis said a review into disclosures made by Veitch began on Monday, but significant and complex matters about the issue restricted what could be said publicly.

"We are giving the situation our most serious consideration, and Tony's personal statement will be taken into account by the review process," he said.

"Violence is a major issue in New Zealand, and the profile of our on-air presenters is important to the public and to our organisation."

Bill Francis of the Radio Network, who appeared with Veitch at yesterday's media conference, said the company had nothing to add.

But AUT head of journalism Martin Hirst said Veitch's celebrity status meant it would be very difficult for him to keep his presenting roles.

"Had he been convicted of this kind of assault he would have lost his job. Given that he's admitted to paying [Ms Dunne-Powell] money to keep her quiet, it looks like a cover-up and that looks really bad.

"If I was [TVNZ head of news] Anthony Flannery, I would show him the door."

Family violence consultant Catherine Lawson said the allegations against Veitch were a reminder of the way violence was all too often kept secret in New Zealand families.

The Jigsaw Family Services consultant said the alleged cover-up was a common practice in abusive relationships.

"Not all men can afford to pay out hush money to their partners but there are other ways the secret of family violence is harboured in homes across New Zealand."

A tense, tired-looking Veitch appeared at the press conference in central Auckland to answer allegations that he seriously assaulted Ms Dunne-Powell 2 1/2 years ago.

He said he had reached a financial agreement with Ms Dunne-Powell "because we didn't want this to play out in the public".

The agreement included a payment for the loss of income and distress he caused her. News reports have alleged the deal was worth $100,000.

July 2008: Tony Veitch's career hangs in the balance after he admitted an assault on his former partner, Kristin Dunne-Powell. He told a press conference it was something he would regret for the rest of his life.
Dec 2006: Reports circulate of a stoush between Veitch and fellow Radio Sport host Willie Lose. Veitch dismissed the claims saying, 'We were being lads and pissing around ... It was boys having a bit of fun and he took it a bit far and I got out of the situation."
Sept 2005: Of US tennis star Serena Williams, Veitch says: "Do you know where the apes come from? She is a reminder." He was ordered to apologise by his Radio Sport bosses for the on-air comment, and later censured by TVNZ.
Feb 2005: Veitch is suspended from his sports presenter role at TVNZ after appearing in an advertisement for an Interdominion harness-racing series at Alexandra Park Raceway, Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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