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Bringing Back Tony Veitch To Radio Sport A Bad Idea

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford
Tony Veitch

I read last week that Tony Veitch is being brought back onto the airwaves by Radio Sport next year. I believe that it's a bad idea.

I hear many of you saying 'give the man a break - he's confessed to his crime, he's been through hell, let him get his life back again!'

Well, if he had been more contrite in his apology following revelations about the assault on his former girlfriend Kristin Dunne-Powell last year, then I would be. But, as he has never taken full responsibility for the assault in that Veitch continues to claim that Dunne-Powell supposedly 'provoked' him, I am not in the mood for congratulating The Radio Network on this occassion.

Last year, it was all very different. At that time, the public were highly indignant that a high profile presenter like Veitch had committed such a crime, especially at a time when both The Radio Network and his other employer TVNZ were running the Families Commission's  'It's Not OK' anti-domestic violence ads. The huge public pressure exerted on both of his then employers saw them dump Veitch from the airwaves. This was a wise decision and sent the explicit message that people like Veitch are looked up to as role models and that any legally unacceptable behaviour from a celebrity (such as Veitch) would not be tolerated.

Within this context, I find TRN General Manager Bill Francis's decision to re-hire Veitch to be repugnant. It sends a message that if you just happen to be a prominent celebrity who pleads guilty in court to a serious historical assault against a former partner, then all will be okay. By merely appearing in court, you have been cleansed of all past sins without fully acknowledging the emotional, physical and psychological pain experienced by your former partner. Therefore, it's okay for you to come back on the air now - all is forgiven!

That is practically what Francis has done - give Veitch (to use a sporting metaphor) a hospital pass.

In saying all this, I do acknowledge that Veitch has struggled with clinical depression and has made two reported attempts at suicide. While this shows that Veitch has been going through emotional turmoil as well, I would have to say that this has largely been self-inflicted. Veitch virtually attempted to contract himself out of justice through his money for silence agreement with Dunne-Powell. Once this self-serving agreement was exposed, Veitch's less than charming side was brought out into the open for all to see.

Therefore, unless Veitch makes a full apology, acknowledging that he was fully responsible for his behaviour towards Dunne-Powell and is prepared to take back all the negative statements he has made about her since the January 2006 assault story became public, then I would be prepared to accept him back on the airwaves. Otherwise, I would argue that Veitch would be better off working in a lower profile sporting administration or other role at least until he was prepared to do so.

For all these reasons, putting Veitch back on Radio Sport merely sends the message to all Kiwi males that 'hey, it's okay to beat up or humiliate the missus and the kids - after all, it won't affect my job or social standing!'

Is that the message we want to convey about domestic violence going into 2010? I don't think so!


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