Nine Network's A Current Affair TV show was spared the embarrassment as well as paying a former prostitute $60,000 for a controversial interview which it did not air the last minute. The ex-sex trade worker initially claimed that embattled MP Craig Thomson was her client which could have provided evidence to the Fair Work Australia (FWA) charge that Mr Thomson misused Health Services Union (HSU) funds to pay for services of hookers.
The woman executed an affidavit retracting her earlier claim that she had sex with Mr Thomson. She also aired the retraction and apologised to the MP from Dobell through Seven Network's Today Tonight programme on Wednesday night.
In admitting her mistake, the former prostitute said she checked her passport and discovered that she was overseas when the alleged dalliance with the MP took place in May 2005. She added that she initially claimed to have sex with Mr Thomson because a lot of her clients fitted the description of the MP.
"It's a really terrible case of mistaken identity... I just don't think that Craig Thomson should be punished over something that is quite likely false," the former prostitute said.
Two days before Current Affair aired the interview the woman sent a text message to the program to inform its producers that she signed a statutory declaration that she was retracting her statement and requested that the interview not be broadcast.
Nine Network complied with her request, but explained at that time the reason it withheld the airing of her interview was the station did not want to pre-empt police investigation.
However, Grant Williams, the executive producer of A Current Affair, said that the programme did not claim the woman who was interviewed by Today Tonight was the same prostitute. He added that former sex trade worker interviewed by Seven Network admitted in her statutory declaration that she had sex at least one occasion with Mr Thomson.
The woman insisted she informed A Current Affair that she was no longer a credible witness, but the producer still chased the story. She did not accept the $60,000 that the TV show producers offered for her to fly to Sydney for another interview, but stressed that her appearance on Today Tonight was an unpaid interview.
"I can't apologise more for putting you all through all of this... Craig Thomson, you family, your friends, whoever else this might have affected. I hope you can accept my apology," The Australian quoted the woman.
Mr Thomson has not yet commented on the woman's retraction, but he has consistently denied the FWA charge that he misused $500,000 of HSU funds, including paying for prostitute services using the credit cards of the union.
The MP continues to be a pariah in Parliament because of the FWA charge. Labor kicked him out while the Coalition pulled out one MP whenever he voted with the Opposition to negate his vote.
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