Pubdate:  Friday, September 19, 1997
Source:   Sydney Morning Herald
Contact:  MP accuses columnist of going to pot


News Ltd columnist Piers Akerman, a leading campaigner against the ACT
heroin trial, has been branded a drug addict, who regularly used cocaine,
LSD and marijuana, in an extraordinary attack in State Parliament.

The Independent Upper House MP and a staunch supporter of the heroin trial,
Mr Richard Jones, used the cover of parliamentary privilege to also claim
Akerman sexually harassed young female employees of News Ltd while working
in Washington.

Mr Jones attacked Akerman for his published opposition to the trial,
branding him a hypocrite who "was a drug addict and still is a drug addict
on legal drugs this very day".

Akerman described the attack yesterday as a "base assault from the gutter"
and an abuse of parliamentary privilege. "I am not now, nor have I ever
been, addicted to any substance  legal or illegal," he said.

Mr Jones claimed in the attack: "Piers Akerman, when he lived in Albion
Street [Surry Hills] in the 1970s, used LSD and marijuana regularly.

"He also used cocaine regularly when he was in the United States of
America, in Los Angeles and Washington.

"I have spoken to someone who shared a number of cocaine lines with Piers
Akerman. He was a drug addict."

Asked whether he had used LSD, cocaine and marijuana regularly, as claimed
by Mr Jones, Akerman said: "It would embarrass me to descend to Mr Jones's
level and dignify those extraordinary claims with an answer." He denied
ever sexually harassing female employees and said he had stayed in Albion
Street in the late 1960s or early 1970s for about a month, but had not seen
anyone using LSD in the house.

Akerman, whom the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, frequently cites as an
admirable journalist and someone whose views he often shares, railed
against the proposed heroin trial in his Daily Telegraph columns.

The trial was abandoned recently after Mr Howard said the Federal
Government would not lend its support.

Akerman invited Mr Jones yesterday to repeat his accusations outside
Parliament so they could be tested in a court.

"It was no coincidence that there was a full moon on Wednesday night when
Franca Arena and Richard Jones used the battlements of cowards' castle to
smear many respected people across Sydney," Akerman said.

"I also note that Mr Jones is the same person who refused to honour his own
pledge to resign from Parliament if he left the Democrats party. To my
mind, he is a person totally lacking in credibility."

The editor of the Daily Telegraph, Mr Col Allan, said yesterday that he had
been a close colleague and friend of Akerman for 20 years and had never
known him to use drugs of any kind.