Australia

Nova Peris says family dispute at heart of published emails

Nova Peris attends Olympic Torch Relay media conference at National Convention Centre. 23 April 2008 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nova Peris was the first indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal

Private emails allegedly sent between Labor Senator Nova Peris and Olympian Ato Boldon published yesterday are part of a family feud, Ms Peris says.

The senator said the emails were released publicly in a bid to extract money from her by an "aggrieved party".

The Northern Territory News, which published the emails, said Ms Peris sought funds from a sporting organisation to help pay for Mr Boldon's trip to Australia in 2010.

Ms Peris strongly denies wrongdoing.

"I categorically reject any wrongdoing. I have done nothing wrong," an emotional Ms Peris told the Australian Senate on Thursday.

She said she did not have copies of the emails and so could not verify their veracity.

She said the delivery of the emails - some of which were sexually explicit - to the News Ltd-owned paper was part of a "long-running child access and financial estate dispute" and the newspaper was aware of that.

Ms Peris said she had been contacted by a representative of the "aggrieved party" in the family dispute in 2010 and told about a folder of information about her and Mr Boldon.

This year, the representative said that unless the aggrieved party's wishes were granted the information would be published.

"During this [child access] process I have been subjected to many threats," she said.

'Fabrications'

The NT News report says Ms Peris sought funds from Athletics Australia to help pay for Mr Boldon's trip. Ato Boldon is an Olympic medallist from Trinidad and Tobago.

In a statement released on Twitter on Wednesday, Mr Boldon said the article written by the Northern Territory News included "gross fabrications".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ato Boldon says the newspaper article includes "gross fabrications"

"My trip to Australia almost five years ago was for the purpose of holding several youth clinics, and it was a successful undertaking. The trip was co-organised by one of my now-deceased colleagues at Athletics Australia," he said.

"I will be following the senator's lead, including, but not limited to, pursuing all legal action possible for this malicious misrepresentation of the details surrounding my presence in Australia in 2010."

The emails were allegedly written in February 2010 before Mr Boldon's trip. Ms Peris and her husband divorced that year after an eight-year marriage.

Ms Peris is an Australian athlete and politician who, among other things, is the first indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.

Athletics Australia has confirmed it did pay for Mr Boldon's flight to Melbourne from Los Angeles and covered his accommodations and some "incidentals" while in Australia.

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