Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Scenes of a sex scandal: Five-star hotels to low-rent motels

Len Brown entertained his mistress Bevan Chuang for two years at Auckland's top hotels and in the plush offices of the town hall. But she outed him in fast-food joints and cheap motel rooms

Len Brown took Bevan Chuang to the SkyCity Grand. Photo / Nigel Marple
Len Brown took Bevan Chuang to the SkyCity Grand. Photo / Nigel Marple

Explosive revelations of Auckland Mayor Len Brown's affair with Bevan Chuang were dished up at a 24-hour McDonald's restaurant.

The scandal began moving from whispers behind hands to a bombshell on a blog when Whale Oil website owner Cameron Slater contacted his former Truth colleague Stephen Cook.

Cook - who was sacked from the Herald on Sunday in 2008 and lost an Employment Relations Authority claim against the newspaper - began contact with Chuang by text and quickly arranged a meeting.


Sunday, October 6 - Stephen Cook meets Bevan Chuang for the first time at a cafe on Ponsonby Rd. Luigi Wewege unexpectedly shows up a few minutes into their meeting.

He says he wants to create an "American-style smear campaign" against Brown before the mayoral election.

Chuang says Brown "flirted" with her. Cook says: "Well hold on, love, flirting is a perception. There's no story here.

"If you're going to make these sorts of allegations you've got to have some evidence."

Wewege presses Cook to take the case but he refuses.

Cook phones Slater. "I said I've talked to this girl, the whole thing's politically motivated. She's said there was some flirting. She's been put up to this by this Luigi character. I didn't feel comfortable with him turning up.

"He's a shadowy character. It was like he was under the table urging her on.

"They were clearly working as a team and, now I think about it, seeing if I was willing to swallow this line to save them having to go that one step further."

Slater, who is in Dubai, tells Cook: "That's fine, that's why I got you involved because I needed your judgment."


Tuesday, October 8 - Anonymous threatening text messages are sent to Chuang, Slater and others.

Saturday, October 12Election day in Kingsland. Len Brown's family are all smiles, despite Brown having told his wife of the affair on Monday. She isn't wearing a wedding ring.


Sunday, October 13 - Chuang calls Slater, who says he is keen to use the text messages against Brown.

That night, Chuang and Palino meet in a Mission Bay carpark to discuss revealing news of the affair.

In a sworn affidavit, Chuang says Palino told her he indicated a need to "get Len before the end of the week", the earlier the better.

They plan to suggest to Brown that he can claim he can no longer perform the duties of a mayor because of his health problem. "This would give him an opportunity to be a hero and assured that he won, so he did not lose any face."

Chuang continues to text Cook, inferring more serious allegations, and he agrees to meet again.


Monday, October 14 - Cook and Chuang meet in a McDonald's on Great North Rd at 9pm.

They spend two hours thoroughly going over every aspect of her liaisons with Brown.

"I told her we start from the beginning and we do this chronologically," Cook says, "every bit of evidence that's going to be damaging to him.

"We talk for about two hours. She's giggling, laughing.

"She's feeding off it, loving it. None of this stuff is being solicited. She offered it all up.

"I told her it wasn't realistic to remain anonymous."

Cook admits he doesn't warm to Chuang. He works through the night until 4.30am at a Ponsonby motel on writing Chuang's account.


Tuesday, October 15 - Cook picks Chuang up and takes her to a Central Auckland cafe.

She reads the 2,000-word affidavit he has prepared before taking her to Auckland District Court and signing the document in front of a judge.

Cook sends the statement to Slater and leaves multiple messages with Brown and his office, seeking comment about unspecified "serious allegations".

Cook calls Chuang at her parents' place in Central Auckland.

He tells her to turn her phone off, to get another number, to speak to no one but her mother and sister for the next 24 hours and to keep off the internet.

That afternoon, the media storm erupts - Cook picks Chuang up and takes her to a Mt Eden motel.

He pays $260 for two nights. Shortly after he texts her: "You've been named on Campbell Live."

Two hours later, he phones Chuang and she's not at the motel. She is at the North Shore home of a friend.


Wednesday, October 16 - Chuang avoids Cook but he persists and finally, they speak. He tells her Brown's supporters are smearing her name. "We've got to get you out there," he tells her. "You've moved from victim to perpetrator."

Cook devises a media plan - Radio Live with Duncan Garner, 3rd Degree, Woman's Day, Herald on Sunday and the Sunday programme. "We can turn this thing around for you," he says, "make it a priority."

She agrees. But two minutes before an interview with Radio Live, she pulls out. "I'm sitting right next to her and she looks completely vacant," Cook says.

After that she breaks off contact, avoiding all contact with Cook and Slater ... talking directly with media she chooses.

- Herald on Sunday

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