Legal battle looms over Paul Freebody email scandal
The Cairns Post understands Mr Freebody has engaged lawyers to defend his candidacy, forcing LNP heavyweights to cancel a meeting scheduled for today, where they were expected to decide his future.
Mr Freebody called a press conference yesterday to explain that the email at the centre of the scandal was the result of a prank.
In the email, sent to dozens of people on Thursday, Mr Freebody said he hoped Prime Minister Julia Gillard "follows the history of JFK".
The businessman has maintained he is innocent of any wrongdoing since the scandal broke, insisting he had originally written the initials "KMR" (which apparently stood for Kevin Michael Rudd) not "JFK".
Mr Freebody yesterday blamed the mix-up on a family member, who saw the unsent email on his laptop and "thought it would be funny" to switch KMR to JFK, referring to the assassinated US president, John F. Kennedy.
"Any candidate with an ounce of brains wouldn’t put JFK on an email," Mr Freebody said.
Mr Freebody spoke to the media yesterday, despite telling The Cairns Post on Sunday that he wouldn’t be able to talk about the scandal until the LNP’s investigation was over.
LNP bosses suspended his party membership on Saturday as they launched an internal inquiry into the email and "a range of matters concerning Mr Freebody’s recent conduct".
LNP State director Michael O’Dwyer said the investigation was still going and the party hoped to reach a resolution as soon as possible.
Mr Freebody said the male family member tried to cover up the apparent prank, but the pressure of the subsequent investigation forced him to reveal his actions.
"It was an attempt to be humorous, nothing more," Mr Freebody said.
"There was no malice whatsoever meant and the person involved wants to make it known that he intended no offence to the Prime Minister."
But the explanation contradicts what Mr Freebody told media last week – that he had sent the email with the initials "KMR" and it had later been doctored to "JFK".
He even sent a copy of what he claimed was the original email to reporters on Friday, to show that he had sent the KMR version.
LNP representatives have seized the laptop and Mr Freebody said he had co-operated with the investigation.