Australia’s most infamous conman, Peter Foster, is still receiving plenty of coverage on Fleet Street, but the paper which has been giving the Foster story the biggest coverage in Australia is none other than The Gold Coast Bulletin, because Foster is an old Aquinas College boy with a reputation for ripping his Gold Coast school mates off in the 70s.

This coverage reached its peak on Thursday December 12, as the Bully devoted its entire front page to a “Coast Confidential…Breaking News” exclusive in which “Our society columnist Regina speaks to the Aquinas Old Boy who has shaken the British government to its foundation.” The headline ‘I want to come home to lick my wounds’ accompanied a less than flattering picture of Cherie Blair.

The full report by Regina King and Peter Gleeson was on page four, and they used the bizarre tactic of quoting King in her own story. The article included the following paragraphs:

“Speaking from London last night Foster told The Gold Coast Bulletins gossip columnist Regina King he was homesick.”

“I asked Peter how his relationship with Carole (Caplin) was standing up under all this pressure, said King.”

“King also spoke to Foster’s mother Louise in Ireland yesterday.”

“She said that Cherie Blair was given a list of questions to answer regarding Peter and one of them was ‘Do you know Peter Foster?’ to which Mrs Blair answered ‘No’, simply to protect her husband, Tony and family, said King.”

It was a very odd move from Rocky Miller to allow this style of reporting on the Gold Coast Bully.

This exclusive was followed up in the Focus section of the same edition with a feature article entitled ‘Sweet talker Peter’, with the precede “The Gold Coast circa 1970s was a young Peter Foster’s playground.” Bulletin society scribe Regina King and senior photographer Glenn Hampson knew him then. Here they talk about his antics and the women who were swept off their feet.

The story, which is really just a collection of anecdotes chronicling Fosters early misadventures, focuses on his relationship with a 14-year-old model, Sonya Fawdry, who had “long thick golden hair and would have had a bosom size of at least 14DD”, which is apparently Foster’s type.

Pictures of Fawdry and some of Fosters other sexual conquests, including Samantha Fox, accompanied the story.

The next day (December 13), the skills of Chief Reporter Peter Gleeson were devoted to a story on the ‘Ups and Downing of Peter Foster’, relating to reports that Foster and his girlfriend Carole Caplin had split over the Cheriegate affair.

It was also revealed that Caplin had lost the couples child only a week before, presumably due to the stress caused by the scandal.

Of course this coverage is nothing compared to the media frenzy which ‘Cheriegate’ has stirred up in the UK. Since the Mail on Sunday broke the story, all the Fleet Street tabloids have been scrambling for exclusive stories on Peter Foster and his relationship with Downing Street, without being completely accurate.

For a full account of the saga as it unfolded, The Guardian website has put together a timeline, which explains How the ‘Cheriegate’ affair unfolded and includes links to related stories.

The latest ‘Private Eye’ also flogs ‘Cheriegate’ for all its worth with no fewer than seven items relating to the scandal in the first two pages.

The media frenzy has of course provided The Eye with a wealth of dirt on its favorite targets. One of the best yarns is the play-by-play of a bidding war between the Mirror and the News of the World for a “killer e-mail” from Foster to a former business associate, which ended with both papers ripping off the seller by stealing the story from each other.

Private Eye also delves into the previous misadventures of Foster, including a contra deal with the News of the World, which ended with paper receiving a rcecord 25,000 complaints whilst Foster jagged $6 million in just a few days selling his dodgy potions plugged shamelessly by Rupert’s dodgy tabloid.

The highlight is an item entitled ‘If only Cherie read The Eye…’ which includes items from the Private Eye archives dating back to May 1990 and June 1995. They report that “former lover of Samantha Fox, Peter Foster was being sought by British authorities in relation to slimming tea scams and a fradulent brand of thigh cream.”

Private Eye also reports that the Mail on Sunday got several key facts wrong in their original story and should not have been complaining about the other papers even running the original Downing Street denials.

For the latest dirt from The Eye check out http://www.private-eye.co.uk/

Peter Fray

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