Freeman denies link to magazine

Chris Griffith, Page 7, The Courier-Mail - 12th September 2000

Australian Olympic idol Cathy Freeman has denied all knowledge of her involvement in a magazine projected connected to One Nation, as claimed yesterday by the party's former director David Ettridge. In a book called "INSIDE ONE NATION", to be launched next month, former party webmaster Scott Balson claims Mr Ettridge used the names of several Olympic and world class athletes including Freeman, at a One Nation committee meeting (NOTE 1) in February 1997 to win party support for his teenage motivational magazine Champions (NOTE 2).

According to leaked party documents released the following year, tens of thousands of dollars in management fees were deducted from One Nation and paid directly into Mr Ettridge's private company that ran the magazine, Champions Magazine Pty Ltd.

Freeman speaking through her publicity agent, yesterday denied any involvement with Mr Ettridge's publication.

"She has no knowledge of it whatsoever," agent Richard Amos said.

But Mr Balson yesterday released a tape of a One Nation committee (NOTE 3) meeting on February 4, 1997 when Mr Ettridge makes the claim.

"What I have been able to do is recruit people like Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan, Cathy Freeman, Trevor Hendy," Mr Ettridge said on the tape.

"They are all involved with this magazine, which is designed to go out to kids."

Mr Ettridge, who recently registered the No GST Party and the No Nuclear Waste Party, last night stood by his claims and denied using the celebrity names without authorisation.

"You can't just go out and use celebrities names without their permission or you end up with all sorts of legal consequences," he said. Mr Ettridge said he had not approached Freeman directly, but through an intermediary, Zoe Jess.

He produced a letter he had sent to Ms Jess dated January 30, 1997, seeking Freeman's endorsement, with a hand annotation that Ms Jess had agreed by phone on January 30, 1997.

Mr Ettridge said Freeman must have forgotten and "could have been preoccupied at a training session or with other meetings" when the approach was made.

"I'm a big fan of Cathy's," he said. "I think she's a fantastic role model for young Australians and a fantastic ambassador for Aboriginals (sic)." Mr Ettridge said the involvement of Freeman and Hendy was for a poster that was never produced.

NOTE 1: Should be Pauline Hanson Support Movement Committee meeting

NOTE 2: Ettridge was promoting his expertise as a marketer - using this and other remarks to lobby the committee to take over PHSM - his ruse succeeded. (Bruce Whiteside walked out of this meeting after calling Ettridge a "con man").

NOTE 3: Should be Pauline Hanson Support Movement Committee meeting