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Oct 18, 2011

Andrew Bolt's secret ex-fiancée revealed

Anne Summers' profile of Andrew Bolt in the October edition of The Monthly looks set to become one of the most successful commissions in editor Ben Naparstek's 30-month reign as editor.


Anne Summers’ profile of Andrew Bolt in the October edition of The Monthly looks set to become one of the most successful commissions in Ben Naparstek’s 30-month reign as editor.

Interim sales figures are said to be huge and when the story was temporarily released online last Monday it notched up a massive 10,000 page views in 24 hours.

But since its release several of its central claims have come under sustained attack. At the centre of Summers’ piece was a pseudonymous interview with a one-time belly dancer, now executive coach, who was engaged to Bolt in the 1980s.

The duo had met when they worked alongside each other at The Age — Bolt was a cadet journalist and “Sophia Wilson” ran the editorial floor and worked as a secretary to an editor.

Ever since details of the profile started to circulate, Bolt has been eager to cast doubt on the some of the facts in the piece. On October 3, when only the blurb was available, Bolt rejected the existence of his fiancée at all, informing readers he promised to read out a “1987 letter confirming the error”.

Two Sundays ago, Bolt posted this incorrect entry on his blog under the headline “defamation removed”. He wrote about his “supposed previous ‘engagement'” and referenced the “pathetic sledging of my wife by an unnamed ex-girlfriend of mine from more than a quarter of a century ago”.

Bolt had also requested that The Monthly “pulp” all its remaining news-stand copies.

Last week Anne Summers responded to Bolt, both on her own blog and The Monthly’s website.

But some commentators have continued to cast doubt on the veracity of the piece. On Friday, Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog column ran an item under the headline ANNE SUMMERS’ ANONYMOUS SOURCES mocking the existence of the “alleged” Sophia Wilson:

“Dr Summers’ sources for her essay included (i) ‘a colleague of Bolt’s’, (ii) ‘someone present’, (iii) ‘one colleague from The Age‘, (iv) ‘a woman who lived with Bolt in the early 1980s’, (v) ‘a former journalist who has worked with Bolt’, (vi) ‘the woman who was once engaged to Bolt and who lived with him for the best part of six years’ [What about the worst part? — Ed], (vii) ‘a friend of the belly-dancing Sophia Wilson’ and (viii) ‘a Ten inside’. For the record, Sophia Wilson is a nom-de-plume.”

Colleagues and friends have expressed little doubt that Sophia Wilson, whose real name is Sue Walshe, was once engaged to Bolt.

Walshe was facilitating a business seminar and was unavailable to comment this morning. But Gavin Youl, Walshe’s husband of 20 years (they met in 1988), confirmed that his wife had in fact been Bolt’s fiancée.

“It was a matter of family history that she had been engaged to Andrew. They lived together for 5-6 years in St Kilda and they were engaged towards the end of that time,” he said.

“How can Andrew possibly argue against reality?” Youl told Crikey. “Let’s hope this is the end. We’d like to see the end of it.”

Summers had cited a statutory declaration written by Walshe, as yet unpublished, and letters sent between the young couple as evidence for the engagement. The text of that statutory declaration reads as follows:

“My last formal contact with him was via email after the publication of a profile of Andrew in the IPA Review in January 2011, where he described himself as going to Darwin in 1984 as ‘a minder for a belly dancer’. I took exception to his belittling our relationship in that manner and reminded him in that email that we had been engaged. He did not dispute this fact when he replied to me, apologising for having hurt and embarrassed me.”

The email trail remains in existence. The “minder for a belly dancer” line has been used before, in a 2008 Bolt blog post under the headline “Ruining a good spaghetti”.

Former Age colleagues attested to Bolt and Walshe’s closeness the morning.

“There’s no doubt about that,” former Age editor Mike Smith told Crikey. “They were pretty thick, it was no secret and it was common knowledge. It was a very strong relationship.”

Margaret Simons remembers Walshe well as a “seriously bright young women who ran the editorial floor, photocopying and greeting people coming in for an appointment.”

“There was certainly no doubt that Sue and Andrew were in a relationship…everyone knew about it,” she said.

A recently-retired former colleague of Bolt’s, legendary Herald Sun business editor and former Sunday Age and Australian editor Malcolm Schmidtke, said that Walshe had once belly-danced for him on his birthday.

“I knew her and I knew they had a relationship,” he said.

Both Bolt and his wife Sally Morrell have kept up the email heat on The Monthly, with Bolt accusing Naparstek this week of “lying” in response to a profile of the young editor by Nick Leys published in yesterday’s Australian. Morrell has also personally emailed Naparstek saying she was sick to her stomach over the piece.

Bolt’s rancour may reflect his uneasiness in revisiting his romantic history with his current wife and family.

He wrote that after details of Walshe’s existence emerged, he had “boasted to my eldest son, a Mad Men fan, that at least I was now a man with a Hidden Past, the Don Draper of journalism …”


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37 thoughts on “Andrew Bolt’s secret ex-fiancée revealed

  1. Ross Sharp

    “How can Andrew possibly argue against reality?” Youl told Crikey.

    It’s Andrew Bolt. That’s all he does.

  2. david

    But all good stuff to up the sales figures, whats Bolts cut?

  3. William Fettes

    I really don’t find much journalistic relevance in this kind of work – delving into someone’s private life. But that little detail about him referring to the time he spent with his former fiancée in Darwin as a minder was revealing of his lack of class or character.

  4. John64

    Attempting to give a damn…
    critical error.

    Failed to give a damn.

    The world would be a much better place the less we heard about Andrew Bolt.


    What’s all this about. Bolt makes a few statements some of us don’t like, has the courts deal with him. No, that’s not enough his past has to be brought up and now we all know he had a live-in-lover in the 80’s. We don’t even do this kind of coverage to our lying politicians.

  6. SBH

    I read the monthly article. It was really disappointing. Firstly it was published before the judgement and was greatly diminished as a result. I understand that this was an editorial decision. I know bugger all about publishing but I would love someone to explain to me why you would commission an article about Bolt and not wait until the judgement was out.

    I suppose you might do so because you had a substantial piece but we didn’t get that. In fact what we got was a bit of detail about his parents which could have been kept to half a para and been as useful (eg they were required to marry in Holland as a visa condition – and??) some really interesting but all too scant analysis of Bolt’s motivations, and some just unreasonable intrusion into his and his family’s personal life. Lots of people find there past romances uncomfortable territory, why should this most human weakness be held against Bolt. I was really surprised that someone like Summers would choose to go there and the irony of the piece immediately predating the Ernies was not lost on me.

    I also found the references to his early career, things like (and I paraphrase) 20 years ago as a a copy boy – pointless and even petty attempts to belittle Bolt. 20 years ago we were all something else but so what?

    Why wasn’t more done to discuss the proposition that Bolt saw a niche and with a cynical commercialism pursued a place as Australia’s Bill O’Reilly? This seemed like a really meaty angle. Why not more discussion about why he would write the offending pieces and how they might fit his business model, or a development of the view that he sees himself as an elite intellectual opinion maker who can cynically manipulate his readers into outbursts of rage and hatred – and that he does it, not because he believes it, but because it makes money. This would have been a much more useful contribution. Maybe it was lawyered out or maybe Summers pulled her punches. Either way, it diminished rather than enhance the Monthly’s reputation in my eyes.

  7. Andrew McIntosh

    There’s minimum standards for journalism out the window at Crikey. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, it seems.

    By the way – “confirmed that the his wife had in fact been Bolt’s fiancée”; editing standards seem to be going in the same direction as well.

  8. DF

    Interesting how Bolt expects others to endure being lied about by him but he does not like the truth being told about himself. As my late grandmother used to say, the higher up the ladder you go, the easier it is for people to see up your dress.

  9. fredex


    By all concerned.

    Irrelevant trivial elevated to news status.

  10. Grinder

    Not sure why you’re getting so personal, crikey. Sure, he does, but that shouldn’t make you descend to that level.

  11. san jose

    as much as i think bolt is a complete knob,
    why? next we’ll hear stories of how he wanked into a sock when he was 15?

    what does that say about me that i read half of this though?

  12. klewso

    Another example of his mixing his opinion with facts?

  13. DF

    I disagree, Fredex. No detail is too trivial for Bolt in his proselytising. And his nasty personal attacks on those with whom he disagrees serve to invite similar treatment in reply. Something about living and dying by the sword.
    Frankly, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t care two bob about the details of Bolt’s past personal life but if it is good enough for him to undertake humiliating personal attacks on others then it’s open season on him too.

  14. Justin

    It would have been a much smaller event if Bolt hadn’t gotten so riled up about something in his past. What the article doesn’t seem to address is Why Bolt would be so unhappy about this being public knowledge.

  15. rubiginosa

    “How can Andrew possibly argue against reality?”

    Give the man a graph and he’ll show you how.

  16. Venise Alstergren

    People who discuss/rubbish past relationships are beneath contempt. But A Bolter
    takes the concept of contempt to a record low.

  17. Verio Browning

    What is it with Bolt and fact?

  18. Khan

    I was intending to read some news and opinion on crikey but I seem to have stumbled on to woman’s day instead. Bother!

  19. mikeb

    A trivial subject to be sure but one that goes to the heart of credibility. Someone is lying (or more than a bit muddled). I know where my money would go if it was a betting matter.

  20. John Bennetts

    How many nails does it take to put the lid on a coffin?

    Must each be examined publicly before use?

  21. michael r james

    So, no surprise that the only person engaging in “defamation” and “pathetic sledging” of people close to Andrew Bolt was….Andrew Bolt.

    As Richard Flanagan said on last week’s Q&A, only two things can be seen from the moon, the Great Wall of China and the self-pity of Andrew Bolt.

  22. zut alors

    Good grief, Andrew B0lt wasn’t aware that he was engaged? His powers of observation can’t be well-honed.

    As for comparing himself to the charismatic Dan Draper, that’s the biggest laugh I’ll have today.

  23. Jeremy Williams

    Yes I agree with Ross I saw that caption about reality and andrew bolt and laughed – this is the bolter anything goes with him and his 1 million moron followers

  24. Mark from Melbourne

    Well I guess it does tweak my prurient side, and anything that makes Andrew Bolt squirm the way I do when I hear him talking over the other people on Insiders tickles me, but frankly could we move on from all this.

    I really dont care if he had a fiance, and I dont care if he has apologised for moderation that allows some pretty awful comments through

    But I particularly dont care to hear about Bolt – he is a mediocrity that built a “megaphone” by spruiking some pretty obnoxious stuff to a market that just laps that sort of stuff up. LCD, preaching to the converted etc etc

    Can we stick to serious debate even if about freedom of speech but can we be boltless PLEASE.

  25. Bob the builder

    You reap what you sow, so Bolt’s getting back some of the shit that he has slung around.
    But I don’t read Bolt, so I’m not hugely interested in reading about Bolt.
    Crikey, get back to leaking and stirring shit, not getting caught in internal media wars, blah, blah, blah…

  26. AR

    As much as i loathe Rusty for what he does, I can’t see why his, long past, relationship/s are relevant. Unless they show him to be a hypocrite, or liar, or fact fabricator or an amoral blot on the page.

  27. Russell

    Bolt is laughing at you all, every single one of you (and me) and counting the dollars. He saw an opportunity to make money with his ability with words, and went for it. Is that why most journalists (and Crikey) hate him so much?

  28. Sancho

    When this whole bunfight I began I felt that it was just sinking to News Ltd’s level, but now I’m curious to see how the Murdochians will respond to having their favourite weapon of character assassination turned against them.

    Mayby the threat of mutually-assured defamation will raised the quality of reporting.

  29. Fran Barlow

    The Blot’s defenders here have some nerve appealing on his behalf for humiliating personal stuff to be denied an airing. He said that lies told about others were of no great consequence. He makes up stuff about others to suit his causes.

    The Golden Rule applies … and in this case, at least the information is truthful.

  30. Son of foro


    I was wondering the same thing reading this article. But I think you’ve nailed it, actually. His personal life doesn’t matter – until he lies about it. He makes such a big song and dance about being a fearless defender of the truth that he has to be challenged whenever he lies. Which, as we know, is frequently.

    It’s unfortunate that this time happens to be about his personal life, as he often attacks people based solely on their personal life. However, this piece is about his lack of honesty. The more he is revealed to be an untrustworthy clown the better. He hass poisoned the public sphere enough.

  31. Jim Reiher

    ahh: the ethics of discussing people’s personal moral flaws….

    Not worth the discussion really.

    I like the old sayings: “do to others what you would have them do to you….” and
    “he who is without sin, cast the first stone…”

    Bolt seems to me to be a man who loves to embarrras others and pull down all and sundry who are not like him. Now he is getting some of that back… that might seem like justice… but it is also a lowering of ourselves into the mud of such discussions.

    The best way to respond to Mr Bolt in our community is to IGNORE HIM. Dont read his stuff, dont talk about him, dont watch his tv show.. just ignore him. Journalists and writers hate to be ignored. Better to be criticised that not talked about!

    so … I will do what I am just recommending… and will stop! 🙂

  32. Peter Ormonde

    I am not going to even comment on this story. I will smile. But I will not comment.

  33. Archer

    Questioning the heritage of a person and making errors, wanton or not, as he did should not have ended up in racial vilification court. We now have a circus. Personally, I’d throw out racial vilification laws they are crock. Keep defamation laws.

    Geoff Clarke said this decision means our people will never have to justify their aboriginality again.

    Fine, then remove that clause seen in all government applications;

    Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

    “In concluding the eight day proceedings, counsel for the plaintiffs conceded Bolt’s writings did not incite “racial vilification or racial hatred”, rather they “constituted highly personal, highly derogatory and highly offensive attacks” on the nine individuals.”

    Well, what were they there for?

  34. Michael Hutak

    Did she really only belly-dance that one time?

  35. Liz45

    JIM and others. I agree! I don’t buy any Murdoch rags. I won’t watch Insight until he and Piers Ackerman are no longer on it, and I wouldn’t waste time watching Bolt’s program – I’m hoping it gets axed! He should remember the saying, ‘what goes around comes around’ before the next time he lays into someone! Bullies look the same – regardless! They have the same mean mouthed look about them! He’s just got a taste of his own medicine! Good show! Well done to his ex fiance for getting rid of him – good move!

  36. Frank Campbell

    What do Crikey, Jones, Bolt, and Henderson have in common?

    Each other.

    Crook shouldn’t be wasting his time (and ours) on cocktrivia like this.

    Obsessing about JBH merely inflates its hyperventilating ego.

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