Kerry Stokes has four children and long ago he disowned his first son and daughter from his first marriage and rarely acknowledges their existence. Kerry Stokes tries to portray he is a loving father of two sons, Ryan and Bryant, and that might be true, but his first son Russell says his treatment by his father Kerry has been disgraceful.
Russell approached me to publish the below open letter because other media wouldn’t allow him to respond to allegations made against him in two books written about Kerry Stokes and also because he could see that I wouldn’t be bullied or intimidated by Kerry Stokes to stop me publishing the letter.
Russell Stokes was quoted briefly by the SMH in an article in 2013 titled “Billionaire’s ‘forgotten’ family speaks out” but the below letter goes into a lot more detail.
Below is Russell Stokes open letter:
An article appeared some years ago in the Perth Sunday Times. It was in a lift-out called Perth Now, written by Colleen Egan.
The article was about Kerry Stokes. It was a brief story on his life and his acquisition of the Caterpillar franchise in Western Australia. When questioned about the children from his first marriage he replied he had no contact with them after the divorce because there was a court order preventing his access.
This explanation caused me great anguish on two levels. Firstly, the fact that it is simply not true, and secondly, his failure to take responsibility for walking out on his children, and the inevitable abandonment issues that we grew up with.
The anger and hurt simmered for a couple of days, at which point I rang Colleen Egan to
complain. She listened to me and agreed to do a follow-up story on my grievances and respond to his version of events. She told me it was a pleasure to run my story because I had not asked for any money. She also told me that if I had approached Packer he would have paid me millions, as they both hated each other passionately. I had no inclination to profit monetarily from my story which I felt would have diminished my credibility, and that my reply needed to be played in the same forum.
Colleen listened as I explained that his first wife did not prevent him seeing his first children. I know this because he once took me on a fishing holiday, out of the blue and unexpected. I was twelve. The two-week adventure was terminated on day three. He was on his radio to my mother complaining: “What’s wrong with him?” Autism – ADD – dyslexia was what was wrong with me. I was sent home on the plane. My behaviour wasn’t affected by hyperactivity, as that is part of my ADD; just an inability to concentrate. However, I did find it hard to talk and that is what irked him the most. So much for court orders preventing his access.
Secondly, at the age of fourteen, my mother rang him to ask him to take me. His reply was “He’s not coming here.” I know this because I was listening in on the extension. In fairness, he did not completely abandon me. I was sent to live with his parents on a farm in the middle of nowhere.
They picked me up at the train station. The grandmother’s first words to me were: “We didn’t ask for you to live with us. We are quite happy on our own. You better not eat us out of house and home.”
They held that position most of the time I lived with them. She was particularly hostile towards me. Her gripe, apart from being burdened with my presence, was her perception that I was a burden on my father. In her words, I was fourteen, old enough to look after myself. I was a hindrance to him getting on with his new life and family. I asked her one day why did he not have anything to do with me, and she told me she asked him one day why it was so, and he told her: “I can ‘t have two families Mum.”
He got wind of the pending article. Apparently, it was going to be front-page news in the upcoming issue of the Sunday Times. He rang me, abused the hell out of me and threatened to kick me out. He asked me why I didn’t ring him first, and I reminded him when I was sixteen he told me to communicate by letter – and that he didn’t talk to me anyway. Further, he said: “The only thing you’ve achieved is to embarrass me.” Really? My second gripe.
I tried to explain to him the impact of being abandoned by my father and mother, and he was completely dismissive. Among his replies were:
“Everyone’s got problems, so what”
“I’ve had a hard life too”
“Any more drama and you can get out of the house, and back to that room where we
Yes, he does support me to the extent that I don’t pay rent, and my electricity is paid for.
However, this didn’t start until I was twenty-seven. My mother had kicked me out of the house several months after I had returned from the farm. I was sixteen, the legal age when she thought she was not obliged to care for me.
After I was kicked out, I did approach him. He told me I was old enough to stand on my own two feet, and that he wasn’t going to do anything for me. The meeting was not much more than five minutes, at which point he headed off. What hurt the most was the anger in his voice. His facial expressions reminded me of Ian McKellen playing Richard the Third – grinding his teeth – when double-crossing one of his lords.
Why the fuss? His motives for me living rent-free (on and off) since I was twenty-seven?
Not having a family – no contact with either of them.
The final kick in the guts – they both had books published that completely demonised and demoralised me. An excuse to walk away from me. I know I am different – always will be. In the end, my differences were not my fault, as my parents had led me to believe. It is just the way I am wired.
The two books in question: Andrew Rule’s “Kerry Stokes: the boy from nowhere” and Margaret Simons’ “Kerry Stokes: self-made man” were filled with lies and half-truths at best.
What’s more important, is that the story was pulled, and Colleen Egan was given a plum job at the West Australian newspaper. Another betrayal.
The media players, (like Stokes and Murdoch), can work together to withhold the truth, which has much broader consequences than just my case. Interestingly, his book was published by Murdoch. I contacted the publisher to complain about the content of the book. Apparently, they called in Andrew Rule and grilled him for six hours. The response was to remove the offending material from the next edition. I explained the importance of my having the right of reply. They said no, and that the adjustments in the second edition were enough.
Margaret Simons’ book was also full of lies. I contacted Simons to ask if I could respond to any negative comments that might be put in the book. I also offered to get others to verify any comeback I may have. She refused that offer. It was clear from that exchange Simons had already formed an agenda. Gutter journalism at its worst. I was shocked to discover there were many lies in her book. It was obviously a female witch hunt targeting males. As they say, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. So much for the integrity of Simon’s Walkley Award for journalism.
I was equally shocked to find an excerpt from Simon’s book in the Sydney Morning Herald. I contacted the editor at the time, Ben Naparstek to complain, and the only explanation he could give me was that the story was run without proper authority or his knowledge. I asked him if he could run my side of the story and he just laughed and said no.
I also contacted Paul Barry, thinking the Australian Broadcasting Corporation would be without corporate influence – I had no comeback.
In frustration, I contacted the media complaints body, filled out their forms, and waited, and waited, and waited.
I can only assume that his reach extends well beyond Seven West Media. Given that the media in many ways represents the law of the land, how is it that one man can stand above it. English history shows that when one is above the law, tyranny rears its ugly head. Is it time for a media Magna Carta?
End of Russell Stokes letter. (Except for some basic editing and adding the picture I have left the letter untouched)
Kerry Stokes likes to boost his profile and reputation by putting his face on TV for the annual Channel 7 Perth Telephon raising money for sick kids, but Stokes tells his own children to get lost.
If Danielle Stokes reads this article can you please contact me on the details on the about page as Russell would like to talk to you. (I updated my mailing address as I moved from NSW to Queensland during the week)
I emailed Kerry Stokes for a response and he had his lawyers send me a frivolous email trying to intimidate me.
Just because you are born into a wealthy family doesn’t mean you’ll get an easy run in life. Since 2014 Kerry Stokes has spent $millions using his lawyers to try to silence me from writing about him and his corruption but it’s not just me Kerry tries to silence. As the above article shows Kerry Stokes also does everything he can to silence his own son.
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