Oz Labour leader claims PM Julia Gillard stroked him

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Wellington, Aug 10 (ANI): Former Labor leader Mark Latham has claimed that the 27th Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is responsible for their much-publicized confrontation and the apology issued over the incident from his employer, Channel Nine, is nothing but a chase for ratings.

Latham said Gillard had made their meeting physical with a "patronizing, condescending stroke down the front."

"I haven't been stroked down the front from a woman other than my wife for quite some time actually," Stuff.co.nz quoted Latham as telling Skynews.com.

Latham said he didn't "need a permit to talk to a person that I've known well over the years".

"At one time, we were very close, personally and politically so I approached her and made a point that's relevant to my story," he said.

"It was absolute nonsense that she should be offended by his behaviour. I think she's overreacting," Latham added.

However, in a confident and relaxed ABC's QnA, Gillard was asked how big 'a tool' Latham was on a scale of one to 10.

"There are some things that can't be measured," she quipped, to audience laughter.

The Nine Network, which has hired Latham as a guest reporter for 60 Minutes, has apologized for his behaviour, viewed by many as aggressive and suggestive of the vigorous John Howard handshake in the 2004 campaign.

Latham has dismissed the apology, issued by the network's chief executive, David Gyngell, as being driven by nothing other than commercial considerations.

"They're interested in ratings, obviously I've been hired to assist with the ratings," he said. (ANI)

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