Brown's rival Palino unseen

16:00, Oct 18 2013

One of the key figures in the Len Brown sex scandal appears to have left the country as questions swirl over his part in the affair. 

Sources told Fairfax Media that rival mayoral candidate John Palino was sighted at the Auckland International Airport departure terminal yesterday morning with fiancee Rose Li. 

Palino has refused to take calls since revelations of the newly re-elected Auckland mayor’s affair broke on Tuesday, but said through a spokesman he had no knowledge of the matter. 

His departure came as rumours swirled that Brown’s mistress, Bevan Chuang, was preparing to make a statement about the extent of his knowledge of the affair. 

Chuang, who signed an affidavit detailing the affair and released it the Whale Oil blog this week, has alleged she was pressured into going public by member of Palino’s team, Luigi Wewege. 

Chuang appears to have been having an intimate relationship with Wewege at the time. She also helped with the Palino campaign, handing out flyers and attending several events. 

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Fairfax has tried repeatedly to contact both Palino and Wewege about their involvement but neither will return calls. 

Meanwhile, a besieged Brown met with Prime Minister John Key yesterday, but the sex scandal was not discussed. 

"We pretty much stuck to business," Key told reporters. 

"In fairness he is dealing with the fallout of a significant issue; not unusual for public figures when they face crises, they go to ground a bit.” 

"I am sure he will be back on the horse as soon as he can." 

Chuang, 32, and Brown, 57, had a two-year relationship that lasted until mid-last year. Brown, who is married with three daughters, told his wife just last week. 

Brown has refused to step down from his role, however Auckland Council will investigate whether he misused any mayoral funds during the affair. 

It is yet to comment on whether a reference letter provided to Chuang by Brown for a job at the Auckland Art Gallery was a breach of the code of conduct. 

Brown was elected  to the mayoralty 55,410 votes ahead of his nearest rival - Palino.

Fairfax Media