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Statement From Leonie Brookhammer

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

I have no wish to expose my private life to more media scrutiny, and I did not wish to answer personal and offensive questions from Auckland journalist David Fisher over the past couple of days. But today's 'Herald on Story' story misrepresents my personal situation and is full of inaccuracies.

Over the past five years, and since Michael has been mayor of Wanganui, our family and our personal life have been the subject of ongoing malicious rumour and hurtful gossip. These rumours appear to come from the same sources and are always at their worst in election years.

Michael has a very high profile and has taken the lead, on behalf of Wanganui, on a number of controversial issues. As a result, our house and our family have been personally targeted by anonymous cowards who regard any association with Michael to be fair game.

Our daughter Lucy's diagnosis of leukemia, and the associated complications and treatment, has placed enormous stress on us and particularly myself. I have not slept properly in the last three years.

The rock throwing incident - which showered glass all over my childrens' bedroom in the early hours of the morning , and came when Michael was representing majority opinion on the spelling our city - continues to have ongoing effects. I lie awake listening for the next incident.

The nastiness that went with the election campaigns of 2004 and 2007 seems to be starting all over again.

Michael has been a public and political figure for over twenty years. He has developed coping mechanisms. People cope in different ways: Michael's is to provide a solution and move on. But I am an ordinary person, and a mum to five children. Such pressures and outright attacks would distress anyone. They distress me and can impact on my family.

Our house and family sanctuary has been targeted at least once every six months and frequently required Police attention. It is always worse during issues of prominence - especially over the gang and 'h' issues. The malicious stories also get worse too.

Michael loves his family and he loves Wanganui. I fully support him in his wish to make Wanganui a better place. But the best way I can feel that my family is safe at this time, is to move them to a new place. It was a very difficult decision to make. At this time, it reduces our collective stress.

It is also not fair for the media to imply there was a domestic violence incident that required a Police call to our house earlier this year. It was not. Michael is not that kind of person, abhors violence and has never lifted a hand to myself.

But that kind of malicious story is being regularly fed to media to discredit him. And both my family and myself are considered fair game in making that happen.

I am releasing this statement to set the record straight. I should not have to - my family is entitled to a private life no matter Michael's public life.

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