The spokesman for Michelle Leslie – the Australian model accused of
breaching Bali’s drug laws – has accused Network Ten’s news of
secretly recording his comments and then misrepresenting them.

Ten’s 5pm news bulletin last Sunday ran a story following up Balinese
media reports that had placed Leslie with the sons of powerful
Indonesian politicians and businessmen on the night of her arrest, and
alleged a cover-up to protect them.

Ten ran a grab from a taped phone call with Leslie’s PR manager, Sean
Mulcahy, in which he said: “I’ve got no comment mate, my hands are tied
unfortunately, I’d like to help you but (my) hands are tied.”

The revelations are potentially disastrous for the Leslie’s case, which is still before the courts in Bali. But while other Australian reports
had clearly indicated Mulcahy’s unwillingness to comment, Ten lead its
5pm bulletin last Sunday with: “…Confirmation tonight from Michelle
Leslie’s inner circle she was with the son of a senior Indonesian
minister the night of her arrest…”

The same report claimed: “Michelle Leslie’s spokesman, Sean Mulcahy,
has told Ten news the model was partying with a senior Indonesian
politician’s son. He revealed they were driving to a dance party with
several others when the car was stopped by police.”

And Ten’s reporter in Bali, Martine Griffiths topped it off by by
claiming a source from the Leslie camp said other people in the car were
caught by police with drugs and let go.

Leslie’s lawyers threatened in a letter yesterday to launch Supreme
Court legal action against the network, unless there is an on-air
retraction and apology within 48 hours. “The fact is that what they got
out of me was ‘no comment, no comment, no comment’,” Mulcahy told
Crikey from Bali. “It’s irresponsible, it’s reckless and it’s illegal
because it’s a breach of the Telecommunications Act [to record a phone
conversation without seeking permission first].”

He said Ten’s reporter in Sydney, Frank Coletta, had recorded him
without permission after he repeatedly offered Griffiths a “no comment”
on the same issue. Despite requests yesterday and today, Ten has
declined to comment while Coletta could not be reached for comment.

Crikey is keen to publish the broadcaster’s side of the story as soon as it’s available.

At the time of her arrest outside a rave party near Kuta in August,
24-year-old Leslie was with, among others, the son of a senior
government official with a financial stake in a luxurious Bali resort,
several Bali newspapers reported at the weekend. The Den Post newspaper said police arrested Leslie but let the others go because they were protected by their parents’ powerful status.

The family of one senior minister has since denied the claims.
Leslie faces a maximum 15 years jail if convicted of drug possession
and claims two ecstasy tablets found inside her handbag belonged to a
friend who has not been seen since her arrest. Leslie’s trial resumes
on Friday with evidence from her Balinese psychiatrist.

Her lawyers hope the judges will agree to a maximum three-month
sentence under a lesser law on drug use, instead of the maximum 15
years under Indonesia’s tough drug laws.

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