S. Australian Premier Mike Rann to challenge sex claims in court

from www.abc.net.au – South Australian Premier Mike Rann has denied he had an affair with a married parliamentary waitress and says he will sue Channel 7 and New Idea for their malicious reports.

In a paid interview Michelle Chantelois claimed that she had an affair with the Premier.

She’s the estranged wife of Richard Phillips who will face court on December 7th over the alleged assault on the Premier six weeks ago.

The Premier has denied ever having sex with Ms Chantelois and says they were just friends.

The question now is how much of an impact the allegations will have on Mike Rann’s leadership and his party’s prospects in the state election in March.

Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: The South Australian Premier Mike Rann has vehemently rejected Michelle Chantelois’ claims they had an affair saying they were nothing more than friends.

MIKE RANN: I have rejected those allegations of having sex with her.

REPORTER: But have you ever had any kind of sexual relationship with her?

MIKE RANN: I have not had sex with her.

NANCE HAXTON: However his denial did not deter Michelle Chantelois from defending her reputation.

She first aired her claims on Sunday night, alleging that she and the Premier had an ongoing sexual liaison before his marriage in 2006.

Last night she stood by her story.

MICHELLE CHANTELOIS: I’ve spoken the truth. What more can I do? That’s up to the public to decide. I am not here to justify myself to the public. I have actually come clean with my family. I am not tormenting my family any further.

NANCE HAXTON: Mike Rann says he will start legal action against Channel 7 and New Idea but he will not pursue Ms Chantelois in the courts.

MIKE RANN: I can only assume that she’s gone through hell over the past four years and of course her husband is before the courts two weeks from now. It’s not for me to speculate but I do not intend to denigrate her in any way whatsoever.

NANCE HAXTON: But Ms Chantelois says Mr Rann is putting his spin on events.

MICHELLE CHANTELOIS: I think he’s the big power organisation and I think he is actually putting his little spin into it now and using his strength and his power play behind this whole thing now.

NANCE HAXTON: With an election looming in March next year, Labor powerbrokers are so far sticking firm to the Premier, who has held an unassailable lead in the polls for years.

Party sources are divided, with some saying this won’t affect the Premier’s position, while others are concerned this could damage his leadership depending how it continues to play out.

Flinders University political analyst, associate professor Haydon Manning, says he’s never seen a political stoush quite like this one and it’s hard to know how it will end up.

HAYDON MANNING: You must remember that Premier Rann remains after nearly eight years in office a remarkably popular premier. He leads a, you know, a very united government that has not demonstrably had any grave problems or any matters of scandal and incompetence.

It’s no doubt rattled Labor and it’s dealt the Liberals some political luck. I think that they’ve been luckless really for the best part of two terms.

Certainly think Labor will be returned. They’ve got a 10-seat buffer. I mean that is a huge win they had at the last election but I can see some of that being eroded whereas a fortnight ago one wouldn’t have really seen a great number of seats change hands.

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