Article Title:The Peron Allegations: Part One: The Personalities Emerge
Category:True Stories
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:21st March 2005 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:667
Text:Lindsay Perigo Amongst all the names being bandied about in the wake of the unsubtantiated Jim Peron "gay paedophile" allegations under Parliamentary privilege by Winston Peters, one high-profile character has largely escaped the limelight until now – television/radio political commentator and out gay man Lindsay Perigo. At first sources indicated ‘off the record' Perigo's involvement, but he was finally fingered publicly as a source of the allegations by Peron in an interview on news site Scoop. Perigo denied Peron's claims, and that was where the story seemed to die. Despite the potential for an incendiary media scandal about the alleged involvement of a supposedly neutral political commentator in what looked like a smear campaign against a fellow gay man, no other journalist seemed inclined to dig any deeper than Perigo's denials. “All the media outlets are in the press gallery [at Parliament], and most of them have had the opportunity to come to me and get an earful about how it's not me who started it,” he says. “I imagine they believe me because they know that I'm not in that job to pursue personal vendettas.” But whilst he vehemently denies starting the Peron rumours, Perigo has admitted he was the conduit for the allegations' arrival in New Zealand. He says the allegations, which surfaced on a subscriber-only net forum called “Atlantis” and made by an American named Bill Dwyer, were forwarded to him by a friend in 2003. “That's how it got into New Zealand,” Perigo confirms. “But I put it to you it was bound to get into New Zealand anyway given that it was out there on the internet, albeit by a group that anyone can join, and once you've joined you can read the stuff. And in this day and age, if those sorts of allegations are being made about someone with whom a lot of New Zealanders are friendly, then mutual friends are going to pass that on and say ‘what the hell is going on here?'” THE EXTENT OF THE ALLEGATIONS Bill Dwyer's pattern of accusation is eerily similar to that of Winston Peters in Parliament – Dwyer started by claiming Peron had been arrested numerous times for sex with children, but then admitted, after being confronted, that it was an employee in Peron's bookstore decades ago in San Francisco who had actually been arrested (just once) and not Peron at all. “He [Dwyer] described a conversation he'd had with Jim in a bookstore where Jim had talked about being arrested for underage sex, and he thought Jim was talking about himself, but as it happens he was talking about the employee,” says Perigo. “But the reason he thought Jim was talking about himself was that he'd read a book in the shop in which Peron – this is what he claimed – wrote a chapter extolling man-boy sex on the basis of his own experiences with a man when he was a kid.” Perigo admits the book has never been produced. In fact, no evidence has been uncovered to show it was ever published. Dwyer, who still insists he read the book, cannot name the title of it or a publisher. “I was in touch with Bill Dwyer after the retraction just to sort of clarify that he was sure he recalled reading this book,” says Perigo. “One of the things Winston tabled was a San Francisco Chronicle article from 1988 saying that the bookstore stocked literature containing legal but fictional accounts of sex between adult men and boys as young as 8. The possibility is there in my mind that Dwyer read one of the books mentioned in the San Francisco Chronicle, and has somehow misremembered it as being by Jim Peron. But I put that to Dwyer just recently and he still insists that no, he remembers it accurately, and it was something by Jim Peron. But in any event, what's already established and what Winston has tabled is the fact that he was selling books that gave fictional accounts of paedophilia.” The above is the entire extent and origin of the Peron allegations which Peters took to Parliament. When the “Atlantis” discussion was forwarded to Perigo by a friend, he says he hit the roof, followed by the “forward” button. He admits that he and Peron have “a bit of a history”, relating to them both being highly active – and it would seem, competitive – in libertarian political circles. “When it [the conversation] came through, I did my nut because the way it was told, it seemed completely genuine and sincere,” he says. “I thought oh my god, because I've always had a paranoia that the libertarian movement in New Zealand will be hijacked by people who do indeed want to licence paedophilia. And so, you know, all my fears appeared to be coming to pass.” ACT MPS GET DRAWN INTO THE WEB Perigo says he forwarded on the discussions, which included Peron's responses, to “a handful of people, high up in the libertarian movement here, and I also told Rodney Hide and Deborah Coddington. I thought, these people stand to be embarrassed by this.” Hide confirmed to he had been contacted about Peron. “I was approached some considerable time ago, and warned off Jim along the lines of the allegations that have been made,” he says. “It was only the once. I considered that they were made in good faith. We politicians get warned off people all the time. I didn't believe the claims. I didn't raise them with Jim, I didn't want to distress him. I never told anyone about them.” Coddington says no-one has ever alleged to her that Peron is a paedophile, but recalls a conversation she had in connection with the allegations. “Lindsay Perigo asked me, either last year or the year before that, was I aware that Jim Peron advocated lowering the age of consent to puberty,” she says. “I wasn't aware of that, but Lindsay thought I should know because of my well-known stand against child sexual abuse... That was the only time Lindsay and I talked about it.” “Rodney and Deborah I consider as friends, quite apart from professional considerations,” says Perigo. “And you can readily see, with Deborah's paedophile index and all the rest of it, if it turned out the party was harbouring one, it'd be hugely embarrassing for them." PERSONAL RELATIONS ALREADY AT ROCK BOTTOM Remarkably, Perigo says he didn't contact Peron directly before passing on the allegations, because “relations between me and Peron had already hit rock bottom, so we weren't speaking. In the ordinary course of events one would pick up the phone and say hey, do you see what they're saying about you? But I was already predisposed to think that it was true. And the way it was told seemed that it was true.” Why was he predisposed to think the allegations were true? Perigo won't go into details of how his relationship with Peron broke down, although he acknowledges it wasn't amicable. That much is evident from a fiery email exchange between Perigo and Peron at around the time Perigo was circulating the allegations, obtained by and reproduced here in part: >on 14/8/03 11:10 PM, Linz [Perigo] at [email address withheld] wrote: > > Jim > > It's time you    Chris Banks - 21st March 2005
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