Channel Nine has sensationally backed away from airing its controversial A Current Affair interview of a former prostitute who claimed to have had sex with Craig Thomson seven years ago. They have also decided not to pay her one penny for the information she “exclusively” gave them.

Citing a willingness to assist the Victoria Police Fraud and Extortion Squad with its investigation into the Thomson allegations of misuse of union funds they have handed “evidentiary material in our possession” to them.

In a statement last night, executive producer Grant Williams said:

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“Our investigation is now complete. We now await the outcome of the police investigation before pursuing the story any further.”

Last week Williams told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell that “I do believe the woman” and that ACA would pay her $60,000 or “thereabouts” for her story. They covertly whisked her off to an undefined overseas location to interview her amidst a whirlwind of publicity.

Crikey asked Williams this morning whether it was safe to assume the prostitute had not received the payment. “Correct,” was his response.

So is this the action of a noble TV station with high journalistic standards interested only in natural justice, or did they buckle to pressure from the media, the general public, politicians and Thomson himself? Or is it simply a case that the prostitute’s story was, in the end, just so unbelievable?

There was a general feeling that the word of someone who lived on the edge of society as a prostitute, who wanted to have her face pixelated and voice distorted, and paid a bag of money to help her memory of having sex with someone seven years ago despite having hundreds and hundreds of clients over the years, was beyond belief.

Last week I told Crikey readers that among the doubters, Sydney’s brothel barons also found the pr-stitute’s story unbelievable.

If the “evidentiary material in our possession” was of such good quality why didn’t ACA pay the prostitute as they promised and why wouldn’t they air the interview? Surely it would have boosted their ratings.

In the end I think the whole thing was a fizzer.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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