Naked photos of the woman who had a two-year affair with Auckland Mayor Len Brown were used as insurance to make sure she went public.
The pictures were sent by a member of rival John Palino's campaign team in the run-up to the grubbiest local body elections in living memory.
Bevan Chuang alleges nude photos of her were released by Luigi Wewege, who was part of the team campaigning for John Palino to become mayor of Auckland.
The journalist who broke the story of the affair, Stephen Cook, said an email arrived from Wewege, Chuang's on-again, off-again boyfriend, a week before the story ran.
It contained three naked images of Chuang, with messages such as "love you" and "miss you" scrawled on her body in lipstick. Chuang had taken photos of herself on her phone and sent them to Wewege.
The images arrived at a point when Chuang and Wewege had fallen out because she was resisting his pleas to go public with the story.
The email did not contain a message, but Cook said Wewege was aware of his plans to set up an X-rated website.
"He's the ultimate love rat, you'd have to say. He's trying to humiliate her," Cook said, adding he had no plans to use the images and considered them a gross breach of Chuang's privacy.
Asked why he had not simply deleted the email, he said: "I knew this potentially could go toxic. If the police were to have got involved and I was accused of circulating the pics, I could at least show them that wasn't the case."
Chuang yesterday told the Sunday Star-Times she was "shocked" that Wewege gave the photos to Cook and that she would go to the police if they were published.
"He [Wewege] was the only one who had those photos. We were in a relationship and I trusted him. I'm not sure why he would give the photos out. It's very unfair," she said.
Wewege was yesterday reported to have arrived in San Francisco and could not be reached for comment.
Chuang said Wewege's last act towards her before leaving was to unfriend her on Facebook. "He hasn't spoken to me," she said. "I felt he was more concerned about himself than me."
She hoped he would not end up taking the fall for the "plan" to topple Brown.
"I feel like he is going to take all the blame and be really loyal to Palino and I don't know why he needs to do that," Chuang added.
In another development, an IT worker on Palino's campaign team has admitted that he claimed to have hacked Mayor Brown's emails and threatened to reveal their content if Brown won.
The claim was made to a member of the National Party's youth wing, the Young Nats.
When contacted by the Star-Times, the IT worker, who became emotional and asked not to be named, said he made up the story to see if there were "leaks" emanating from the Palino camp.
"I had a hunch there was a mole . . . it was only my first foray into politics . . . I wanted to know who I could trust," he said.
Palino, who had a secret meeting with Chuang in a Mission Bay car park the day after the election, denies being part of any plan to embarrass Brown in to stepping down from the mayoralty.
He said yesterday he had nothing to add to a statement he released last weekend, which said "suggestions now that I . . . am somehow orchestrating some grand right-wing conspiracy to unseat Len after the election are so wrong and so absurd they do not stand up to even the remotest test of common sense".
Palino said his meeting with Chuang in the Mission Bay car park was only to discuss threatening texts they had received, and not the affair.
Palino's campaign manager John Slater said it was "absolute crap" to suggest that Palino had been involved in any smear campaign against Brown.
"The first I knew of it was when it blew. And that's the first he knew of it too."
- Sunday Star Times
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