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Veitch an embarrassment says chair

Published: 7:14AM Monday July 14, 2008 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

The chairman of the board of TVNZ has spoken out for the first time on the Tony Veitch affair.

A report has been prepared by chairman Sir John Anderson and given to Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard.

Veitch chose his words carefully last week when he publicly confessed he had assaulted his former girlfriend Kristin Dunne Powell.

"I broke and lashed out in anger," he said.

Now Sir John Anderson claims his internal investigation reveals Veitch said even less when he met with network executives last December.

He says an agitated and highly stressed Tony Veitch wanted to talk about a domestic matter.

"Before he was married he was getting under severe pressure from the former partner in the form of emails and texts ... which culminated in a request from a lawyer ... A letter for money," Sir John says.

He says having spoken to TVNZ executives, he believes Veitch made no mention of a physical assault at the meeting. 

"When the issue was raised it was related as a minor fracas and there was no details of any assault in anyway," he says.

However he cannot say if any of those present asked what was meant by a fracas.

The Prime Minister is much clearer on what should have happened.

"If senior managers knew and did not link up the dots, if senior managers thought it was OK to have things confessed to them which clearly are at variance with what any organisation would want linked with them, then there is a moral crisis here," Clark says.

Sir John has revealed that after Veitch had paid his former partner $150,000, the sports presenter told TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs, Anthony Flannery, about the deal and the amount.

The board chairman concedes given the amount of money involved he would have asked more questions.

And that is exactly what Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard is doing.

"I have asked for some extra material and I haven't got that as yet," says Mallard.

Sir John says he retains complete confidence in TVNZ's CEO Rick Ellis and the other staff involved.

"The accountability of this is actually in police or judicial hands it is not in TVNZ's hands. The only matter we have to deal with now is the employment matter of Mr Veitch. We are working at all speed on this, says Sir John.

There have been media allegations that Veitch's former partner was repeatedly kicked, suffered a broken back and needed a wheelchair because of her injuries.

But Ellis says the incident was never described in those terms during a meeting last December which Veitch requested with TVNZ management.

Sir John says Veitch has been a total embarrassment to a company that, he says, does not condone violence of any kind.

On Sunday, The Herald on Sunday newspaper published an interview with Veitch with his colleague, Paul Holmes.

"After about three hours of being with her at the hospital I had to go. At that point they thought Kristin had bruising." Veitch said in the interview.

Veitch also told the newspaper he was unaware of claims he had broken Dunne Powell's back until two months later.

Police say about a year ago, Veitch's former girlfriend approached them wanting advice on a domestic violence matter involving the sports broadcaster. An appointment was made for her to file an official complaint but police say she never showed up.

Veitch claims it was his former girlfriend who approached him for a financial settlement.

TVNZ has said it will continue to work with Veitch and his legal representatives to deal with the future of his role in the company and that will be announced in due course.

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