Peters versus Devoy and Gifford

Tim Murphy started a disagreement between Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy and Winston Peters today.

Video: Peters ‘aghast’ at Devoy’s claim of weight criticism

Winston Peters has defended his comments over Dame Susan Devoy, during a stand-up at Parliament this afternoon.

NZH report: Winston Peters defends his alleged comments of Dame Devoy

Winston Peters says he’s aghast at Susan Devoy’s claim he once told her to lose weight – and that what he did say was supposed to be a compliment.

The Deputy Prime Minister denied he ever made such “inflammatory remarks” to Devoy, who told an awards ceremony Q & A last night that Peters had once said she was a “bit round” – and had told her to walk the length of New Zealand to lose a few kilograms.

Peters told reporters this afternoon that he had made an innocent and complimentary remark to Devoy years ago that happened before she had done charity walk the length of the country in 1987.

“I said that she was an exceptional sportsperson because she could win when she wasn’t fit against the best in the world.

He seems to remember the occasion  but differs in his recollection.

But Phil Gifford backs Devoy’s memory: Second person says Winston Peters called Dame Susan Devoy overweight

Sportswriter Phil Gifford says Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters did call Dame Susan Devoy overweight in 1987.

Longtime sportswriter and broadcaster Gifford was with Devoy at the original function – a sports media awards dinner – in Auckland’s North Shore in 1987.

“He said he really admired her because she was a stone [6.4kg] overweight and yet she could still win world titles,” Gifford told Stuff.

“He said it a couple of times and Susan [Devoy] was furious. I believe it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard a politician say in a speech.

“When he had finished and sat down, Susan [Devoy] finished our conversation and walked over to confront him about it. He left very soon after.

“I have no idea why he would deny it… Bizarrely enough I don’t think he thought of it as a joke I think he thought he was paying her a compliment.

“I’m also really really bugged that there’s a denial from Winston that somehow Susan just dreamed this whole thing up. She’s not Donald Trump.”

Peters has denied both Gifford’s and Devoy’s account of the event.

It seems an odd thing for Devoy to bring up now. It’s difficult to know exactly how it played out unless someone has video or audio.

Peter Williams has also commented: Dame Susan Devoy and Winston Peters story – ’embarrassment to professional journalism’

Last night I was at the New Zealand Sports Journalists Association annual awards dinner at the Ellerslie Events Centre. I was there because I was a judge and because I’m a Life Member of the Association.

Among the guests were two of the sporting stars of 30 years ago – Dame Susan Devoy and Peter Lester.

In other words, they were two of the sporting heroes of their era and as such were invited to the NZSJA annual dinner to celebrate and remember their great feats 30 years on.

In order to sing for their supper, both were subjected to a light hearted Q and A session on stage. During Dame Susan’s session, conducted by veteran sports journalist Phil Gifford, she made some comments about the deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Now they were not especially complimentary comments, but neither were they malicious. It was a fun night, with lots of awards and lots of laughs.

It was a privilege for us media types to have Dame Susan – who I regard as a very distinguished New Zealander – among us. It was even more pleasurable to be sitting beside her, with Phil Gifford one chair over.

So when I heard that a former editor of the New Zealand Herald had sent out a tweet quoting Dame Susan talking about Winston Peters, without any context at all, and that Dame Susan had to leave the function to attend to the follow up calls from hungry media inquiries, I was – to say the least – quite angry.

This was a pleasant, harmless and – I thought – relatively innocent night out.  What was said there was, I would have thought, off the record. Chatham House rules and all that.

But no, some journalists and editors can’t resist. Those bloody mobile phones and that awful medium called Twitter have wrecked a good night out for me and probably others too.

I’m embarrassed for the profession of journalism.

Are comments made openly at the New Zealand Sports Journalists Association annual awards really off limits for reporting?

The point is, these are social nights out. The speaker is there to add a bit of value in an entertaining way. Is there really a need for reporters – off duty – to beat up what are mainly innocent and humorous comments?

If this practice becomes widespread, no person of profile or reputation will be bothered to offer any comments on anything.

Can’t we just have some innocent fun every now and then?

Perhaps there has to be agreement between journalists at public events what is able to be reported and what isn’t – i presume awards were ok to be reported.


  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  December 1, 2017

    Well, if it was 30 years ago it seems a bit odd to bring it up now !

    It’s a non-story.

    • Corky

       /  December 1, 2017

      You don’t get it, do you. People are gunning for this government. Do you think anyone would be remotely interested if you had said those comments?

      • PDB

         /  December 1, 2017

        The MSM have it in for Winston with his Trump like ‘fake media’ claims and recent legal action against some journalists.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 2, 2017

        Of course I don’t. Do you ?

      • Corky

         /  December 2, 2017

        Warning: Read literally. Read literally…score a point.😵

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 1, 2017

    Sounds like a grudge match with Devoy serving.

    • PDB

       /  December 1, 2017

      I’m not a great fan of her in her current role (great squash player though) but it doesn’t really sound her fault considering it sounds like she was in a light-hearted question and answer session with no expectation any of it would be newsworthy – especially as she was speaking of events that happened 30 years ago.

      Unless I was there it’s hard to judge the context of the statement when tweeted in isolation.

      Sounds more like the MSM going to war with Winston due to his recent legal action.

    • Corky

       /  December 1, 2017

      Lets hope Winston is wearing his ‘cup.’

  3. Tipene

     /  December 1, 2017

    This is the same woman who got pregnant whilst playing squash, was advised to tone down the sport in her first trimester, ignored medical advice, and promptly miscarried the child.

    She has never, ever, ever been able to tolerate any criticism or correction, which made her the perfect choice as RRC.

    Compared to her competitors at the time, she was a tubster. This is not bad, good, or indifferent – she just was.

  4. duperez

     /  December 1, 2017

    What happened to Rachel Glucina? Did she turn into Tim Murphy?

  5. It wasn’t Tim Murphy that started the disagreement, it was Dame Susan.
    Re off the record – or not – it’s a grey area, as were the off air lardo comments by Rachel Smalley and the grab ’em by the pussy comments by Trump.
    Dame Susan is a very public person and you must question the wisdom of making comments about the DPM which were “not especially complimentary.”