Veitch basks in limelight back on screen

BY DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 23:31 21/02/2009
"This opportunity has given me hope for the first time in seven months. It's such a relief to spend time focusing on work and not just preparing for the case." Tony Veitch, above.

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Disgraced sports broadcaster Tony Veitch's return to television last week has prompted a flurry of offers to resurrect his once-glittering media career, and he'll be back on screen this week.

The invitation from Murray Deaker to appear on his Sky Sport show Deaker on Sport last week as a panellist also appears to be a lifesaver.

"Make no mistake - Murray may have saved much more than my career," the 34-year-old said yesterday in a written statement to the Sunday Star-Times, a likely reference to his two suicide attempts since news broke last July of his alleged abuse against his former girlfriend Kristin Dunne-Powell.

"This opportunity has given me hope for the first time in seven months. It's such a relief to spend time focusing on work and not just preparing for the case."

Veitch was suspended from Radio Sport and TVNZ ditched him as its Beijing Olympics host within days of the allegations hitting media headlines. He resigned from TVNZ and The Radio Network hours before Dunne-Powell laid a formal complaint to police in July. Police charged him in August with assaulting her six times between 2002-2006.

His depositions hearing is due to begin in April in the Auckland District Court.

He told the Star-Times he was "blown away" by the reaction from other media organisations after Deaker's show, with several contacting him the following day to discuss other opportunities, but gave no details.

Late last year, Veitch had been in talks with RadioWorks over possible work but head programmer Mitch Harris said yesterday those talks failed to lead to his taking a job and there were no immediate plans to employ him, "but we've still got an open mind".

Veitch said public support of last week's appearance was also swift. "Within an hour of the show finishing, I received close to 100 messages of support from people all over New Zealand, including so many of our sportspeople I've interviewed over the years. That was incredibly humbling."

The show aired on Wednesday night and repeated on Thursday and Friday. Veitch, who appeared well-presented, if somewhat nervous, on the show, admitted he had worried about his return to the limelight, but said it was invigorating to be back doing what had been his life for 13 years.

"I had joked with family and friends prior to doing the show, wondering if my brain and mouth would continue to operate at the same speed as before. Surprisingly, they did.

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"In many ways, it felt like a trial as I knew the media, in particular, would be watching to see how I performed. It's up to everyone else to judge that all I can say is that I loved every minute."

Deaker's support had been incredible, Veitch said. "I hope I can repay him one day in the future for all he has done for me and my wife, Zoe."

Deaker said public response to Veitch's appearance had been extremely positive. "People are just thrilled he has had the opportunity. Lots of people have been coming up to me saying `well done, the guy deserves a break'." He said Veitch would appear on the panel again this week and was likely to have further appearances.

Dunne-Powell declined to comment on her ex-boyfriend's return to television. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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