Bill Shorten backs Nova Peris despite rort allegations

Email leak: Nova Peris has had private emails leaked by NT News. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has backed Nova Peris despite the allegations. Photo: Alex Elinghausen

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says senator and former Olympic athlete Nova Peris has his full support, despite allegations she used taxpayers’ money to bring Olympic sprinter Ato Boldon to Australia for an extra-marital affair.

The allegations, published in the Northern Territory News, detail Boldon’s visit to Australia in 2010 leading up to the London Olympics.

Boldon has labelled the allegations ‘‘gross fabrications’’ and has threatened legal action over the article.

The newspaper claims to have obtained explicit email exchanges between Senator Peris, who at the time was an Athletics Australia ambassador and communication officer with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and Boldon, a four-time Olympic medal winner from Trinidad and Tobago.

Senator Peris personally selected Boldon for the 10-day ‘‘Jump Start to London’’ program, and  sought funding from Athletics Australia and other sources to bring him to Australia.

But the newspaper claims Senator Peris, who at the time was married to Australian sprinter Daniel Batman, exchanged emails with Boldon in which they discussed their impending affair.

‘‘Ato … tell me babe … what u want … Make a bit of money and spend time together … I will take time of [sic] from work to be with u,’’ Senator Peris wrote in the email exchange, according to the paper’s report.

In other emails, Senator Peris reportedly said she was getting the money for his trip through the ‘‘indigenous grants mob” and  he would not have to pay tax on his payment.

The exact amount of money Boldon received is unclear but in an email from mid-March in 2010, Senator Peris reportedly wrote  she had managed to round up $22,000 for him, on top of the money Athletics Australia paid, the newspaper says.

In a statement, Senator Peris said she ‘‘categorically rejects any wrongdoing’’.

‘‘During his trip Mr Boldon promoted athletics, attended and promoted specific events and conducted clinics for young indigenous athletes,’’ she said.

‘‘The highs and lows of my athletic career – and now political career – are public,’’ she said.

‘‘The highs and lows of my private life are matters for me and my family.’’

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described Senator Peris as a ‘‘great Australian’’ who had his full support.

‘‘Again, I think that Nova Peris is a very special person, an amazing Australian and she has my support,’’ he said.


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