The Animal Justice Party has formally apologised to 2GB shock jock Ray Hadley after accusing him of having a financial interest in the greyhound racing industry he has been so fiercely defending. But the apology has split the party, with a campaigner furious to have been featured prominently in it.

In a media release sent on Sunday entitled “Apology to Ray Hadley from Dr Eleonora Gullone and the Animal Justice Party”, the AJP acknowledges that “Hadley has had no interest in any greyhound for many years”. Any suggestions to the contrary, the release states, were based on “unreliable and wrong information”. “We have already withdrawn all suggestions of any involvement by Mr Hadley in animal cruelty and corruption and again express our regret for those false assertions.”

“It is pleasing to note that although Mr Hadley opposes the total shutdown of the greyhound industry, he shares our abhorrence of the disgraceful conduct of some in that industry which has recently been exposed,” the apology concluded.

Shortly after two press releases sent out by the AJP claimed to have uncovered Hadley’s ownership of greyhounds in late September, Hadley took to 2GB threatening to sue if he didn’t get a retraction and apology, saying he hadn’t owned greyhounds for several years. The claim that he currently owned greyhounds, Hadley said on-air in late September, had done him “plenty of harm” — he read out abusive emails he had been sent since the claims were made.

In the press release, the AJP quoted an article on racing website The Dogs that detailed Hadley’s ownership of a dog racing that Saturday night. The article the AJP relied on for the assertion was from 2009. Hadley said he currently didn’t own any dogs, and would be totally financially unaffected by the closure of the greyhound racing industry.

But an irate Gullone, the party’s greyhound racing campaigner, told Crikey this morning that she hadn’t been consulted over the apology, and she wasn’t thrilled to feature so prominently in it. She acknowledged that the initial release did have a factual error, in that Hadley’s involvement in the industry was historical. But she said the majority of the content of the AJP releases in question focused on Hadley’s historical interests in the industry, as listed on the Greyhound Racing Victoria website, some of which are incorrectly categorised still as “racing” (e.g. Belford’s Boy, Butcher Dan). Hadley has no current interests in the industry, she says, but AJP’s second release asked him to explain the current status of these dogs.

According to Hadley, who read out the AJP’s release on air, the release quoted Gullone as stating “given neither 2GB or the [News Corp] outlets have been democratically elected, their bullying of a democratically elected government amounts to corruption. It’s time they were exposed for their personal interest in animal cruelty.”

On air, he thundered against Gullone, who was quoted in the release, calling her a “silly old woman”, “a dope” and “a galoot” (your correspondent had to look that one up — it’s American slang for a generally clumsy person). Hadley said if he didn’t get an apology he would issue writs in the Supreme Court for defamation proceedings. Crikey understands the Animal Justice Party did receive a legal letter about the issue from Hadley.

When Crikey spoke to Gullone, Hadley had yet to respond to her or the AJP about the apology. — Myriam Robin