In 1981 Malcolm Turnbull was accused by Fairfax Media of killing the cat of his ex-girlfriend Fiona Watson. Turnbull sued and won but as our new Prime Minister it is interesting to consider why he even bothered to sue in the first place and more importantly will he continue to threaten journalists with legal proceedings?
Of further interest is the fact that Turnbull wrote a letter to the cat as you can see below which was either a novel way of trying to win his girlfriend back or a sign of a nutter.
Background to #KittyGate
The cat story was written by Richard Ackland in 1981 and at the time Turnbull was attempting to be preselected for the federal seat of Wentworth. Four years earlier Turnbull’s girlfriend Fiona Watson had dumped him and Turnbull wrote letters to her cat in what seems to be an attempt to win her back. It was rumoured that Malcolm Turnbull had killed the cat in 1978.
In the 1981 article Richard Ackland said: “if Turnbull is preselected he could face some hostile questions from the Animal Protection League.”
Turnbull sued and was successful. One of the letters is below.
“For those having trouble with the hieroglyphics here it is:”
Tell you [sic] miss that I love her very much, tell her that when I came to see her on Sunday and she wasn’t there I cuddled you up and it broke my heart that it wasn’t her.
Tell her I know a lot about her current boyfriends will tell her not to see me, they will stroke her back and tell her to forget me.
But, Nessie, we know she never will and you tell her, my little cat, how much we were in love.
all my love
The article also says:
“Turnbull routinely dropped the “defamation” word. Journalists who interviewed him for profiles invariably were threatened that he’d sue their pants off if he didn’t like what was published.”
“He waged a torrid war of libel threats against the former editor of The Economist, which had published something innocuous about the murky matter of FAI and HIH.” (Click here to read more)
The fact that he sued and won a defamation proceedings regarding the cat is maybe why the media do not write about it much.
Will Malcolm Turnbull continue to threaten journalists now he is Prime Minister?
Numerous former Prime Ministers have threatened or tried to intimidate the Australian media not to publish stories they didn’t want the public to know about. The most recent example is Julia Gillard who threatened News Ltd and Fairfax Media executives in 2012 regarding her involvement in the AWU / Bruce Wilson fraud and theft. (Click here to read more)
Given Malcolm Turnbull has some form in threatening the media one has to wonder if he will do it again as Australian Prime Minister if it suits his purpose. Turnbull was the Communications Minister prior to becoming the Prime Minister and had promised to change media ownership laws which was quickly shot down by former PM Tony Abbott on the instructions of Channel 7’s owner Kerry Stokes. (Click here to read more)
So how will the media game play out now Turnbull is the Prime Minister? Will Turnbull tell Stokes and Murdoch that they better play ball or he will change the media ownership laws that will cost them money?
It is interesting to note that Turnbull’s good mate is Bruce McWilliam who is an executive at Seven West Media and a non-executive director of its major shareholder Seven Group Holdings
The AFR had this to say about McWilliam in 2014:
“There’s nothing uninteresting about McWilliam’s history as a legal adviser to Australia’s media barons. By and large, McWilliam spent the 1980s working for Kerry Packer , the 1990s working for Rupert Murdoch and the noughties (up to now) working for Kerry Stokes.”
“Then there’s his 40-year association with federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull , and his extensive property interests; last year, McWilliam sold the iconic Bang & Olufsen House on Sydney Harbour for $33.5 million. He met his wife Nicky – herself an accomplished lawyer – at Rodney Adler’s wedding in 1987; they now have three children.”
and: “McWilliam, the son of a Wollongong dentist, met Turnbull in 1974 on his first day at Sydney University. After working at CPH together, they founded their law firm Turnbull McWilliam in 1985 (which continued to advise Packer’s media interests).” (Click here to read more)
And it was Bruce McWilliam who said good things about Malcolm Turnbull on a recent episode on Malcolm Turnbull titled “The making of Malcolm”. (Click here to read more)
As a side note I have been told that it is Bruce McWilliam who has responsibility for Kerry Stokes’ defamation proceedings against me. (Click here to read more) Which means Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s good mate Bruce McWilliam is up to his neck in bribing NSW Supreme Court Judges. I’ll write more on that issue another time.
It should also be noted that Malcolm Turnbull has never threatened to sue me the article I wrote in 2012 about his thieving ways when he was a Minister in the Howard government in 2007. (Click here to read the article)
Will KittyGate be raised in Parliament again?
The evidence supporting the claim that Malcolm Turnbull killed the cat is extremely weak at best but that won’t stop people raising it and it has previously been mentioned in the federal parliament.
In June 2009 federal Labor MP Tony Burke raised the cat story in parliament when Turnbull was opposition leader. News.com.au reported at the time:
“Turnbull, who has sued a few times on this (leading to a sign over the subbing desks in the Fairfax offices in Sydney insisting the “cat should never be mentioned”), insists the pussy was run over and laughs off the cat story.”
“But in the hothouse climate of Parliament this week, the cat was back.”
“Agriculture Minister Tony Burke, who’s becoming more famous for dirt-throwing than dirt tilling, was asked an innocent question on animal protection.” (Click here to read more)
The chances of KittyGate being raised again in parliament would have to be low as Bill Shorten wouldn’t want a dirt fight given his own dirty laundry and skeletons in the closet. Then again, maybe Shorten will think he has nothing to lose.
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