When Crikey was sold in March 2005, the one asset which I retained was the original $5000 eight-foot foam suit in the shape of a screaming exclamation mark, which remains the Crikey logo to this day.

The green and red foam suit used to be deployed quite regularly when we lived a quick walk from the city in East Melbourne and before baby seats took over the back seat of the station wagon. Alas, over the past three years it has only come out at the odd kinder function or kiddie’s birthday party.

However, that all changed yesterday when The Australian launched the first stakeout in Crikey’s history.

After politely declining to be involved in a photograph and sending reporter Rick Wallace this statement responding to the latest baseless Vern Hughes press release claiming I’d been expelled from People Power, a white car pulled up out the front at about 6pm.

There was no attempt to knock on the door so after a few minutes Paula took the rubbish out and quickly established that The Australian’s snapper Stuart McEvoy was indeed staking us out.

Given News Ltd’s utter gracelessness over the Glenn Milne Walkleys assault, I wasn’t going to co-operate on a non-story but we wanted to take the three kids for a walk at 7pm and Stuart wasn’t going anywhere.

The $100 billion Murdoch empire has refused even to pay the $65 physio bill for my sprained ankle, so the Crikey suit was donned and Stuart was presented with the bill once again.

He declined to accept but Paula took a few quick shots on the digital camera and he agreed to go by about 7pm. Stuart did nothing wrong and it was all very polite but you have to wonder about the resource allocation at News Ltd.

The pictures didn’t see the light of day but the resulting story was predictably negative, even trying to claim this bogus expulsion was somehow connected to the Glenn Milne assault.

The original Vern Hughes press release claiming I’d been expelled was sent out before the Walkleys. It was triggered by a detailed analysis about the People Power campaign that I sent to all candidates. The truth clearly hurt and Vern will be comprehensively voted out as President at the AGM on Saturday by the members.

Peter Fray

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