After all the rumours and
frenzied scuttlebutt being tossed around, thought I would go to see
Perc Jones and find out for myself. Last night, he admitted to me that
on Saturday morning last, after a very heavy drinking session at his
pub, he went to bed. He woke with a large mark across his nose. While
he can’t remember doing it, he felt he must have fallen on his way
upstairs to bed at the hotel.

Other people at the pub last
night who were there in the early hours last Saturday morning,
confirmed that Perc had a blinder, Hulls was not there, there was no
fight between Jones and anybody, and Perc did not have a mark on his
face when they last saw him before he retired for the evening.

Percy
recovered sufficiently to go to his usual Saturday afternoon Yum Cha at
West Lake in Chinatown. At the restaurant with Perc was someone known
to Crikey.com.au and a regular at Jones’s pub, Terry Maher. Apart from
Jones, no-one was there who had been at the hotel the night before.

Needless
to say, Jones was regaled with questions concerning the large mark on
his nose. Everyone was hoping that someone had biffed him. Perc’s
friends (and most of all, Perc) are like that! Knowing this, and
embarrassed to say that he fell on the stairs when drunk, Perc blurted
out that Rob Hulls had punched him the night before.

In fact,
Hulls had attended Jones’s hotel a week earlier with his wife, and
spent some time talking to Jones. There had been a bit of stirring by
Perc (another of his trademark characteristics), but no argument or
fight at all. Perc being Perc, he thought it was a funny diversion,
when cross-examined a week later about the mysterious injury, to invent
a story about Hulls (Perc is a very right-wing bloke, who once stood
for the Libs in the local State seat of Melbourne. He does not waste an
opportunity to bucket Labor.)

Someone tipped off various arms of the media, including Crikey and the Herald Sun. Peter Coster, of the Herald Sun,
who was best man at Jones’s wedding and a lover of scuttlebutt, was
prominent in spreading the rumours. By this time, the story had grown
with the telling to include an allegation about me, namely that I was
there and had some involvement in the altercation. This probably arose
because when you rang Jones on Monday, and put the allegation about
Hulls hitting him, knowing that it was not true and not wanting to
admit he had invented it, he blurted out that it was not Hulls but me
who had whacked him!

I was in Fiji the night Hulls did attend
the pub (Friday 10 June) and did not attend Jones’s hotel after I got
back to Australia, until last night (Wednesday 22 June). On the Friday
night/Saturday morning last week, when Jones apparently fell on the
stairs, I spent the night at home, cooking and watching the footy,
would you believe. But I told you all this and you did not want to
believe it. You preferred to believe, among other stories, and allege
on your website, that I had struck Jones, and pooh-pooh my denials.

I have been besieged by journalists from the Herald Sun
and yourself. One was still ringing me yesterday saying that he now
understood the incident happened after 2am on Saturday morning (he was
right!) and that it involved me hitting Jones (he was wrong!). Might I
suggest that next time the source of any rumour is Percy Jones or
someone from his hotel, that you give it a bit more scrutiny than to
simply WANT to believe a good story?

As recently as yesterday, the Herald Sun
informed Hulls that they were going to publish an allegation today that
he had punched Jones. Not surprisingly, they didn’t. Rob Hulls is,
understandably, somewhat mystified and rather angry about all this, and
has sought legal advice. I can understand why.

CRIKEY: A well-argued defence, which is to be expected from one of the
stars of the bar. But would it withstand cross-examination, we wonder.