Paul Holmes gives his latest views on the Veitch affair in the Herald on Sunday
It is over. His battle is lost. Tony Veitch's career and perhaps his life lie in ruins this weekend. I doubt he can ever work in broadcasting in this country again, in the jobs he loves. Certainly, it looks bleak from this end. I do not know if he could approach another broadcaster anywhere in the world at the moment without the stain following him. But time passes.
People forgive and we remember we are all human.
Those of us who know Tony Veitch and have worked with him are in shock at how quickly a man who seemed to have it all can lose almost everything in less than a fortnight. He has lost not just his income. He has lost his name. The fall of Tony Veitch is a genuine modern tragedy.
I believe I know something of what happened that awful night two-and-a-
half years ago but, of course, I was not there. There are always two sides. People forget things and memories distort. I know all that.
But it has nevertheless been a frightful, hysterical couple of weeks with vile claim after vile claim, two major broadcasting companies in the middle of it all, and a man, for obvious reasons, unable to defend himself because to do so would immediately incriminate him. No one in this country is required to do that, surely.
I do not remember a more savage, more frenzied, more complete media consumption of anyone in the public eye. I do not recall anything as ruthless, as relentless, as coldly pitiless. In fact, I believe, and I am not alone, that Tony Veitch has been the victim of a highly organised campaign.
I do not minimise the evils and brutality of domestic violence. Men who bash their families serially are contemptible brutes. Yet, as the kinder part of my heart tells me, those men are victims too, victims of their inner selves and the lives that led them to it.
But this has been a carefully orchestrated plan to end a career and the life a man has built. A valuable broadcasting performer has been taken out of two prime broadcasting slots, the Radio Sport Breakfast Show and One News. Instead of us seeing justice, we may have been seeing revenge. Instead of journalism, we may have seen commerce.
There are serious questions. What happened that night? What are the facts? Why did it take the woman well over two years to complain to police? This is of fundamental importance. Why did the whole sorry saga start in a newspaper? Why did it take it so long to emerge? And why now? Why, when a confidentiality agreement was signed and money paid? Who did it come from? Did events in Tony Veitch's life provoke them? His marriage? His career progress? How was the Dominion Post so certain the incident had happened? And why did a Wellington paper break the story when the events, the people are so completely Auckland? I know from an insider at the Dominion Post that it did not come through a reporter. It came through management. This is extremely peculiar. Management does not generally find stories.
And what was Tony Veitch supposed to respond to this past fortnight? Shadows? Newspapers were full of wild allegations from unnamed sources. What sources? There is, after all, a process through which we deal with these matters. A woman lays a complaint and a man responds to it within the decency and impartiality of the judicial process.
But it is not my battle and it is not my life and I must try to maintain a professional disinterest, of course. But many of us who worked with Tony Veitch believe he is truly remorseful about what happened and that there are dark forces at work here.
It has been a harrowing time at the radio station. [Broadcaster] Peter Montgomery, overseas for most of it, rang Bill Francis [Radio Network's general manager of talk programming] the night Bill went on television after Veitch resigned and said, "Bill, how is it that I've been away 10 days and I come back and you've aged 10 years?"
We are all exhausted. Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair's former Press Secretary, said in his diaries of the Blair years that a political crisis lasts 11 days. To survive, you need to be able to hang on for 11 days. If you are still there at the end of 11 days you will be safe and attention will start to drift elsewhere.
As the gnashing turbulence of the Veitch affair headed towards the end of its second week, it became clear to those who employed him and worked with him that there was no way through for Tony. I watched some very smart people manage this crisis, but no pathway short of his departure seemed available. The pitch of the debate was too strident and the allegations got worse. It was just too hard.
As early as Wednesday afternoon, I think, Veitch knew he was done for and could not survive. Early on Thursday afternoon, he rang me to say his statement of resignation was being issued. Then at 5.30pm the police announced the formal complaint against him. It is a terrible prospect for Veitch and his former partner. I imagine the process that lies ahead and the thought of how it may end. But at least now it is formalised, at least it is now within the system. Now the investigation will become rational.
When police at last made a move, those close to Veitch realised that his withdrawal from broadcasting, if only for now, had been inevitable. I think he has reached a point of acceptance. He told one colleague on Friday that while this was the worst time of his life, he now felt a kind of freedom.
Sad and difficult stuff it has been for everyone. I have to say that as the tsunami that has engulfed Tony Veitch began to recede it was so pleasant to look up and keep an eye on the events in Sydney this week, with the visit of the Pope. We saw a huge celebration of love and faith and hope by tens of thousands of young people, so much laughter and warmth and gaiety. There was sun and blue sky. What people predicted would be a nightmare week of lockdown and overzealous policing turned into one of joy and tolerance and affection for a warm-hearted old man of intelligence and faith and a kind heart. It made such a contrast to the cruelty and destruction we were watching over here.