FORMER Rockhampton model Kendall Olive is embroiled in an ugly spat amid claims the Miss Universe Australia pageant result was “dodgy”.
She claims the chief judge told her she made the top 10 but was dropped from the winning list and replaced by another girl at the last minute by pageant director Deborah Miller.
Ms Miller yesterday denied the claim, and said allegations in the media were nothing but a “witch hunt” against a successful businesswoman and mother.
She said she would not resign as director and was already organising next year’s competition, and had plans to hold a regional heat in Rockhampton.
Kendall, 22, who now lives in Mackay, became a national finalist after winning the Townsville heat – the only heat in Queensland outside the south-east.
Kendall said she was told the top 10 was determined before any of the girls hit the stage, during a 10 minute interview with a panel of judges.
On the night in May when the top 10 was announced, Kendall was not aware of any changes and was content with not making the final cut.
But two days later she said the chief judge told her what happened.
“He said he wanted me to know that I was taken out by Deborah because she wanted other girls in,” Kendall said.
“At first I was just shocked and then I was really annoyed – it just ruined my whole experience.”
Kendall said she was reluctant to speak out yesterday, but had been encouraged to do so.
Townsville heat organiser Henry Petersen said he could verify what the chief judge told Kendall about the top 10.
Mr Petersen is calling for Ms Miller to resign and said he would not be associated with the pageant again until a new director was appointed.
He believes the pageant was not being run “to its full potential” but had kept silent until now to give reigning Miss Universe Australia Rachel Finch her best shot at the crown.
Ms Miller said it was a shame that Kendall was told she was in the top 10, as it now made her look like a “trouble maker”.
She said the scores were correct and that no judges would have known the total compiled scores as they weren’t allowed to discuss it among themselves.
Ms Miller said the truth was that Kendall was never in the top 10 and she had the score cards to prove it.
“She wasn’t a strong contender – Rachel was the rightful winner.”
Kendall said she did not want to be perceived as a troublemaker and did not have issues with not winning, but wanted to make sure judging was fair for future contestants.
She said she had been left confused by the whole matter, “considering the information came from a chief judge”.
Ms Miller said that claims in the national media yesterday that some of the heat venues were dodgy could be refuted by simply listing some of them, which included the Sydney Hilton, Melbourne Hilton and a number of shopping centres.
She said she was continuing discussions to bring a heat to Rockhampton in 2010 and hoped the recent publicity did not cause any long-term negative affects.
She is also considering legal action against a number of people because of their allegations.
This does not include Kendall.