| 15.06,09. 02:19 PM |
Miss Universe Australia Rachael Finch could lose her crown
June 15, 2009 12:00am
MISS Universe Australia Rachael Finch could be stripped of her title after details of her spat with the pageant's national director have become public.
Pageant sources say media reports featuring a leaked letter of complaint Ms Finch emailed to the New York head office of the Miss Universe Organisation could create grounds for her sacking.
"Under the (Miss Universe Australia) contract, bringing the brand into disrepute is grounds for instant dismissal," one source told The Sunday Mail.
The 20-year-old Queensland model reportedly claimed she had been pressured by Miss Universe Australia national director Deborah Miller into signing an exclusive three-year management contract.
"Please try to imagine what stress Mum and I were under," Ms Finch wrote in her email to New York.
"I had not slept in the last 24 hours, was about to speak to an international audience on television and was being told to 'hurry darl'.
"This was not at all what I would have agreed to if I were completely aware of the points within the Miss Universe Australia contract."
The Sunday Mail understands Ms Finch was devastated that the email was made public.
It is believed the email was circulated among several media outlets without Ms Finch's permission and she feels she has been used as a scapegoat by parties lobbying for Ms Miller to be sacked.
Ms Finch's friends and family yesterday went into lockdown following legal advice not to discuss the issue.
Yesterday Ms Miller would not confirm whether Ms Finch was facing the sack over her controversy.
"Technically you cannot bring the pageant into disrepute. I just want this resolved in a win-win situation.
"We have to do the best thing for the pageant in Australia," she said.
Gallery: Rachael in action
Ms Miller claimed she had no indication that Ms Finch was unhappy in her role until contacted by journalists last week.
The controversy follows a group of emails sent to the Miss Universe Organisation owner Donald Trump complaining about Ms Miller's alleged treatment of contestants and sponsors.
They claimed Ms Miller had not honoured contracts and had interfered with judging, allegedly replacing contestants with entrants she felt were more suited to the role.
The Miss Universe source said Mr Trump had engaged his legal team to investigate the complaints.
One sponsor claimed he paid $25,000 to Miss Universe Australia for Ms Finch to spruik his product.
In an email leaked to The Sunday Mail, the sponsor claimed they received little return for their investment, with the product barely getting a mention.
Those behind the complaints are calling for an investigation into Ms Miller.
The Melbourne-based national director, however, repeatedly denied the claims.
Ms Miller said she had no knowledge of the complaints but said allegations she interfered with judging were ludicrous.
"Top 10 scores were confidential. Only I have a copy. No one else has ever seen them. The judges were not allowed to confer about choices or show other judges scores," she said.
She said she was contacting her lawyers and would investigate the claims before commenting further.
Ms Finch's mother Colleen Zablocki, who is recovering from cancer surgery, told The Sunday Mail last month:
"My illness and this Miss Universe thing have made me sick to the stomach, to the point that I can't even sleep.
"I just wish Donald Trump would step in and straighten it out."
The Sunday Mail