When the body of former journalist
Judy Henstock was found a couple of weekends ago at her home in
Sydney’s inner west, police appealed publicly for information. But
former NSW Premier Bob Carr took exception to reports such as this
– syndicated to news websites, radio and TV last Wednesday – in which
Henstock’s daughter Raewyn Teirney said her mother’s career included a
stint working in Carr’s office.

Carr took the unusual step of
personally calling media outlets to get the reference removed, with the
help of his loyal former media adviser Amanda Lampe. “I was in the car
when I heard this being reported and I just found it irritating,” Carr
explained to Crikey.

Channel Ten clarified an offending
earlier report in its late bulletin; 2GB dropped “ex-Carr staffer”
descriptions of Henstock; an amended AAP story was filed and in recent
days, archived web pages have vanished, to be replaced with updated
content. “You’ve got to understand it’s irritating for me when I hear
broadcast that someone I’ve never heard of was an adviser quote
unquote. An adviser! And I’ve never heard of them!”

For good
measure, the former premier suggested a couple of sinister motives,
starting with the tried-and-trusted “character assassination” theory.
“When the media start broadcasting ‘a former adviser, press secretary
to the former Premier has been discovered dead’ then you wonder who’s
putting up a story that she worked for me and why they’re doing it,” he
said.

“I could have let the thing pass but I just get irritated
when people sort of try to secrete into their CV that they worked for
me,” Carr said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened and whether
they’re living or dead you just want the record to be straight.”

But
the real reasons for the incorrect claim are much more prosaic. “I was
told that I may have put things wrong at the press conference,”
Teirney, a leading Sydney Obstetrician, told Crikey. “I said she worked
in the Premier’s Office but it was the Premier’s Department.”

Documents
discovered among Henstock’s possessions by her family indicated she
worked at the Premier’s Department in a media-related role during the
mid-90s, about the same time that Carr took power (1995). “I remember
it, she would wake me up every time she had to go and catch a taxi to
go to work there,” Teirney said. “I was upset when I heard that on the
(Ten) news, when they tried to say mum hadn’t worked there.”

So
there you have it – an honest mistake by a woman with little knowledge
of the Premier’s back-office operations, who happened to also be
mourning her mother’s death.