Peters ups ante over weight jibe com­ments

Deputy PMsays Devoy los­ing her mem­ory over ‘ un­true’ fat- sham­ing

Weekend Herald - - News - Derek Cheng

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters has ac­cused Race Re­la­tions Com­mis­sioner Dame Su­san Devoy of los­ing her mem­ory af­ter she claimed he told her to lose some weight.

Dame Su­san re­port­edly drew gasps from the au­di­ence when she told a Q& A at the TP McLean sports jour­nal­ism awards in Auck­land on Thurs­day night that Peters called her “a bit round” and told her to walk the length of New Zealand to lose a few kilo­grams.

Peters has de­nied it, say­ing he had made an in­no­cent and com­pli­men­tary com­ment in the lead- up to Dame Su­san’s walk­ing the length of the coun­try for char­ity in 1987.

Speak­ing to New­stalk ZB host Larry Wil­liams yes­ter­day, Peters said his rec­ol­lec­tion was dif­fer­ent.

“I did not say she was over­weight, num­ber one; I did not say she was a bit round, that is num­ber two; I did not say she should go on a walk around the whole coun­try, so that’s three facts, made up state­ments that are just sim­ply not [ cor­rect],” Peters said.

Asked if Dame Su­san made it up, Peters said her mem­ory was fail­ing her

“All I said is that her level of skill was of a mag­ni­tude that she could beat the best in the world when she wasn’t fit,” Peters said.

Sportswriter Phil Gif­ford said he re­mem­bered Peters call­ing Dame Su­san over­weight.

Gif­ford told Fair­fax yes­ter­day that Peters called her “a stone over­weight”, yet still able to win world ti­tles, in a speech at a sports awards func­tion in Auck­land in 1987.

Peters said he did not re­call say­ing that she was a stone over­weight, but he and Devoy had met and worked to­gether sev­eral times since the com­ments were made and they had never dis­cussed the mat­ter. The words “a bit round” were words he would never use.

Dame Su­san has not com­mented on the re­ports of what she said, which was t weeted by News­room’s Tim Mur­phy.

Peters is tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against Mur­phy for his al­leged role in the pub­li­ca­tion of his su­per­an­nu­a­tion de­tails. He said Mur­phy was act­ing for his own “per­verse rea­sons around a cam­paign which he is con­duct­ing, which is bound to fail”.

A spokesper­son for the Race Re­la­tions Com­mis­sioner de­clined to elab­o­rate yes­ter­day, say­ing Dame Su­san “prefers to leave her com­ments as they are”.

Peters has made sim­i­lar com­ments be­fore about the weight of t wo women MPs, Na­tional deputy leader Paula Ben­nett and for­mer Maori Party co- leader Dame Tar­i­ana Turia.

Asked about any pre­vi­ous ref­er­ences at his press con­fer­ence at Par­lia­ment, he de­nied it and said: “No, no, sorry you can’t pro­vide one fact, can you?”

Hansard shows that Peters’ ref­er­ences were both dur­ing Ques­tion Time and that both women hit back at Peters, one in ref­er­ence to his “drink­ing be­hav­iour” and the other in ref­er­ence to his age — 72.

In Novem­ber 2003 he ques­tioned Turia about Maori obe­sity. When she said he had no ev­i­dence, he said the ev­i­dence was her­self.

Turia re­sponded: “I do not think I need to ac­count to Mr Peters for my eat­ing habits; nor do I ex­pect him to ac­count to me for his drink­ing be­hav­iour . . .”

Last year when he sug­gested Paula Ben­nett had been at the “lo­cal deli” rather than the coal­face of her then work as So­cial Hous­ing Min­is­ter, Ben­nett re­sponded: “It is prob­a­bly the rest home that you should be in.”

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