Rudd considers legal action on leak claim

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Melbourne, Aug.1 (ANI): Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is reported to be considering taking legal action against former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer after the latter claimed that the former had leaked damaging information about his Labor Party colleagues.

Incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard has dubbed Downer's comments as "disgraceful", even as he has downplayed the furor over them.

"While Kevin is in hospital recovering from an operation, here is the Liberal Party, out there with a disgraceful political attack," she said.

"Obviously, I would want Kevin to make a very, very speedy recovery," The Age quoted her, as saying further.

The claims, attributed to Downer, were carried in News Limited newspapers. They suggest that, as an ambitious Labor backbencher in opposition, Rudd sought to undermine Labor's then foreign affairs spokesman, Laurie Brereton, by giving information to the media.

Rudd, who eventually took over the shadow portfolio in 2001, wholly denied the claims.

"These are serious allegations ... they are completely and utterly false," a spokesman for Rudd said.

"Mr. Rudd is taking legal advice with a view to initiating legal proceedings on this matter. As there are potential legal proceedings, it is inappropriate to provide any further comment at this time," the spokesman added.

Downer has said his comments have been misinterpreted.

"Kevin Rudd was not used by me or other members of the Liberal Party as a so-called 'double agent' to leak material against other members of the Labor Party. Unfortunately, (the journalist) has created a more controversial story than my comments warranted," he said in statement released from overseas.

Rudd is currently recovering in the Mater Private Hospital in South Brisbane following keyhole surgery to remove his gall bladder. (ANI)

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