from www.news.com.au – SOUTH Australian Premier Mike Rann says claims by a former parliament house barmaid that they had a sexual relationship are “wildly sensational”.
The woman, Michelle Chantelois, has claimed she had sexual relations with the Premier in his Parliament House office on several occasions when parliament was sitting, The Australian reported today.
The claims were made in a paid interview with the Seven Network’s Sunday Night program, to be aired tomorrow, sections of which were broadcast on Seven in South Australia last night.
Ms Chantelois is the estranged wife of the man charged with assaulting Mr Rann last month.
A spokesman for the Premier has flatly denied there was a sexual relationship, The Australian reports.
Mr Rann says he is waiting to see the program.
“What I have been told is wildly sensational, and there is a court case pending on December the 7th,” he told the ABC today.
“I intend to make a statement, a brief statement, on Monday after we’ve found out what these allegations are.
“But I will not be admitting to things that are not true.”
Mr Rann said a month ago Ms Chantelois’ lawyers had said she wanted to be left alone by the media.
“I understand that she has been paid a fortune to say the things that she’s said publicly,” he said.
The ABC said Ms Chantelois’ lawyer had confirmed she had provided exclusive interviews for TV and a women’s magazine, adding that she was under enormous pressure and believed conducting the interviews was the best way to deal with the issue for her family.
Mr Rann’s links with Ms Chantelois have been the subject of intense speculation since her estranged husband Richard Wayne Phillips was charged with assaulting the Premier with a rolled-up magazine at a Labor Party fundraiser in September.
The Seven Network’s chief political correspondent Mark Riley conducted four separate interviews with Ms Chantelois in Adelaide on Wednesday that produced 11 hours of tape.
In a segment of the interviews broadcast on Seven’s Today Tonight last night, when asked why she had decided to go public, Ms Chantelois, who is believed to have also negotiated with 60 Minutes, said: “It’s not something that I like to discuss on a public level but in my case I’m at the point where I feel like I have to come clean. I’m tired of the lies and I’m not holding it in any more.”
Ms Chantelois said she was not proud of her conduct, calling it “embarrassing”.
“I’m taking responsibility for my own bad behaviour and Mike Rann should take responsibility for his own behaviour,” she said.
Ms Chantelois detailed how a near-decade-long friendship with Mr Rann became an intimate relationship.
Mr Rann married Sasha Carruozzo in July 2006.
Asked about the relationship with Ms Chantelois following the alleged assault by her estranged husband, Mr Rann said: “Sasha knew about everything. She knows about everything, about the friendship, of the past.”
He described Ms Chantelois as a “terrific person, great mother, and she became a friend”.
“When she left Parliament House we stayed friends,” he said. “My wife was very aware of her.”
Riley said the claims by Ms Chantelois of a sexual relationship with the Premier were “supported by corroborating evidence” that he was unable to divulge. He described her as a “credible witness”.
Mr Rann first met the US-born Ms Chantelois when she worked at a high school in his electorate of Ramsay in Adelaide’s north. The friendship blossomed when she got as job as a waitress in the state parliament bar and dining room.
Mr Phillips sent several letters to Mr Rann and his wife in 2004-05, blaming the Premier for the break-up of his marriage to Ms Chantelois.
Telephone records show Ms Chantelois sent more than 200 text messages to the Premier’s personal mobile phone between March 2004 and October 2005.