Bernard Lagan was sacked by The Sydney Morning Herald
a few years back for hacking into Fred Hilmer’s email account. Then he
emerged as Mark Latham’s biographer and enjoyed enormous publicity when
John Faulkner gave a fascinating speech launching Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy, which featured a few barbs from Iron Mark delivered by email.

Remarkably,
Latham then took issue with what he claimed were 133 factual errors in
Lagan’s book and his lawyer even sent a letter threatening defamation
action claiming Lagan suggested he’d ­carried on “a disgusting affair”
while lying to his now ex-wife.

The only mention of Lagan in The Latham Diaries
is an entry on June 10 last year, which describes him as “not the
world’s most accurate journalist but a good bloke who has promised a
full biography on me.”

Lagan has today teamed up with the Packer camp and Latham’s first wife Gabrielle Gwyther to produce a cover story for The Bulletin: “Sex, Lies and Latham: How Mark Latham tried to smear his first wife,” which is available in full here.

In
a dramatic escalation of all the muckraking, it alleges that Gwyther
told Latham she was bisexual, something she denies. The key lines are
as follows:

Tacked to the email’s end, however, Latham volunteered
­salacious allegations about his first wife. Latham alleged that in
1997, his former wife informed him that she wanted to pursue
relationships with other women.

“Well root my boot,” said Latham’s
email to me. “I wished I had known she was bisexual when I married her.
She said that this little fact went back to her days in nursing but she
was too embarrassed to tell me. A very weird person, I can tell you.

“And
my attitude once the surprise had abated? If she could chase other
women, then so could I. Effectively our marriage ended at that point.
When I had more success with women than her, she went savage and psycho
on me and the rest, as they say, is political history. Not really an
event I could talk about as leader of the opposition, but happy now for
the full story to be known.”

It’s not surprising that The Latham Diaries
are bitter towards Gwyther when you consider the damage she tried to
inflict on Iron Mark over many months in the lead-up to the 2004
election. She certainly contributed to Latham’s final polling numbers
showing he was plus 24 with men and only break even with women.

Latham
is absolutely right to fume about the fact that then NSW Planning and
Infrastructure Minister Craig Knowles kept Gwyther on his payroll right
through this period. If anyone from inside the ALP deserved a spray
from Latham for lack of party loyalty in the lead-up to the election it
was Gwyther.

We’ve now got a real
credibility question over who is telling the truth. Why would Gwyther
approve The Bulletin splashing with these allegations if it was
true? Her interest, having remarried with a child, would be to avoid
this getting out.

Latham has been shown to have exaggerated many
things in his diaries – the Beazley muckraking and Mark Reilly’s
response today being just two examples – but these claims against his
first wife are pretty black and white, so it looks like one party is an
out and out liar.

We saw last year that Gwyther would do
anything to damage Latham and she’s damaged him again today. However,
why on earth would Latham completely concoct a claim that his first
wife told him she was bisexual? Lagan says he believes Gwyther, but in
a way he has to say that, having received permission from her to go
into print and make more money from the Mark Latham story.

I’m
unsure, but tend to believe Latham is not completely concocting this.
But it is possible that Gwyther said something in passing about being
unsure of her sexuality and Latham then blew this up into a declaration
that she wanted to actively pursue lesbian relationships. As with so
many claims in politics, the truth often lies somewhere in the middle.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.