Embattled Liberal MP Andrew Laming says a shock medical diagnosis explains his erratic behaviour behind a string of political scandals.
Embattled Liberal MP Andrew Laming says a shock medical diagnosis explains his erratic behaviour behind a string of political scandals.

Embattled MP reveals shock diagnosis

Liberal MP Andrew Laming has revealed the shock medical diagnosis that he believes explains some of his erratic and downright eccentric behaviour that friends admit has left his career "in flames".

The veteran Queensland MP has told news.com.au he has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD by a psychiatrist. He believes that the daily medication he now relies on has changed his life.

As he prepares to return to work after a month of enforced leave from work following a string of political scandals, he's described the diagnosis as a "light bulb" moment.

He's also told the Prime Minister he's now undergoing ongoing treatment.

"As a medically trained person, I really genuinely just had no idea that ADHD and hyperactivity was an adult condition,'' Dr Laming said.

"I just spoke honestly and openly with someone who understands ADHD intimately. It was very quick.

"I took medication the next day. On the second day I am just absolutely clear on the biological nature of this. I was stunned that I had taken a tablet and the thoughts I had lived with, all my life, raging in my head were just polite."

Dr Laming insists he's not looking for a "free pass" for his behaviour that includes allegations of the online abuse of constituents on Facebook, but admits his psychiatric diagnosis was a light bulb moment that has also transformed his relationship with his children.

"This is not an excuse,'' he said.

"But it's a genuine account of what has happened in the last month, which is remarkable."

Dr Laming's fall from grace follows revelations he took a photograph of a woman on her knees in a "crouching position" filling a bar fridge at a landscaping company prompting her to make a police complaint. Police cleared him and no charges were laid, just days after he agreed not to recontest the next election.

 

Liberal MP Andrew Laming in parliament in 2018.
Liberal MP Andrew Laming in parliament in 2018.

 

Laming says he was misrepresented

Despite his diagnosis and his empathy training, Dr Laming remains largely unrepentant over a string of scandals and accusations over his social media use - insisting he's been misrepresented.

The Queensland woman who says Dr Laming took a photo of her bottom at work without her consent made a formal complaint to police this month. But police ultimately found there was no case to answer under the law.

Brisbane mother Crystal White was not amused over the picture of her bending down to fill a fridge with soft drink at her work. She said her underwear was visible in the photograph.

"I've documented the incident and for now that's all I want to say," she told 9News at the time. "The photo was really inappropriate, especially when I was bent over."

But Dr Laming said any claims he took an inappropriate photo or that you could see her underwear was "ridiculous".

"That's ridiculous. She was wearing a normal uniform like everyone else,'' he told news.com.au.

"The police have examined that. This was a broad workplace photo of the entire workplace. We mutually agreed they didn't want to use that photo. So we just deleted it and that was the end of the story.

"What I am saying is when these facts were explored, the case was thrown out. What was described wasn't true.

"She was crouching, in a crouch position, putting drinks in a fridge, like anyone would," Dr Laming said.

Dr Laming is pursuing Channel Nine for defamation over the original report.

Queensland federal Liberal MP Andrew Laming at his home in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland federal Liberal MP Andrew Laming at his home in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

 

 

'I make the rules and you follow them'

 

The Liberal MP was forced to apologise over the sickening online abuse of women who said they were left distressed and in one case 'suicidal'.

Single mother Alix Russo told Nine News that she had been subjected to false claims and social media abuse by Dr Laming, including claims that she misappropriated funds from a not-for-profit charity.

In one Facebook post, Dr Laming questioned whether money was going on Ms Russo's personal credit card for a Queensland charity that prepares hampers for the homeless.

In another, Dr Laming said: "You got nasty. Threatened self-harm. Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them."

In tears, Ms Russo told Nine News that all of Night Ninjas financial records were available on the regulators website and the claims were baseless. But she said the allegations left her "suicidal".

"To be tarnished and discredited and defamed. To our Prime Minister: this man needs to stop. He cannot continue to target his community like this,'' Ms Russo said.

Queensland Labor MP Kim Richards also alleged she has been subjected to a "targeted, sustained, long-term" online campaign by Dr Laming.

 

Liberal MP Andrew Laming and his wife Olesja. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Liberal MP Andrew Laming and his wife Olesja. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

ADHD may help explain 'Why Andew Laming is a d**khead'

Some of Dr Laming's colleagues and friends have a more blunt assessment: the ADHD diagnosis has helped explain "why Andrew Laming is a dickhead".

Eye surgeon Dr Peter Sumich was a key figure in Dr Laming's eventual diagnosis after he recognised the MP was exhibiting many of the symptoms of ADHD.

"I was watching (Sky News') Paul Murray one night and Paul Murray said 'What is wrong with that guy?','' he said.

"And I thought: 'What is wrong with that guy? What is wrong with Lammo?' I have known him for many years. I thought, 'Lammo has always been a 'd**khead''. He often offends people even when he doesn't mean to.

"Just classic inattention and disorganisation. I have come to notice it and what is involved. The impulsiveness, or the attention span, the concentration. I thought, 'Yeah, I reckon Laming has ADHD, he ticks every box', the penny dropped."

"I thought, 'S**t. That's what Lammo has got. That's Lammo to a 'T' because he's so disorganised, but he is so bright, he can't stick on any task for any length of time'."

Dr Sumich helped him get an appointment with a psychiatrist who specialises in ADHD but said he wasn't the only person who noticed there was "something wrong with Laming".

"I think he is very, very bright. I was talking to (Liberal frontbencher) Stuart Robert once and he said the two brightest guys in the Liberal Party are Lammo and Josh Frydenberg,'' Dr Sumich said.

"And (Stuart Robert) says, 'but we don't know what is wrong with Lammo'."

"But with ADHD as I have discovered with the illness, it's a cognitive disorder, it's not a mental disorder. When they want to do something they just obsess on it and they persevere with it.

"He obsesses on things. It will be about a constituent with a problem. He will just keep banging on their door until he gets an outcome, great for his constituents but bad for his relations in politics. That degree of hyperfocus I think is typical.

"He's a classic. He has so many traits of ADHD."

Andrew Laming seen at the 2019 Annual National Stillbirth Forum in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Andrew Laming seen at the 2019 Annual National Stillbirth Forum in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

Family history of ADHD

Despite a family history of ADHD and telltale signs, Dr Laming says he never made the link between his symptoms.

"Not in a million years. Maybe some people had said I was hyperactive?'' he said.

"The other half of this condition, the inattention, the inability to prioritise, those elements were absolutely florid as well.

"I never made that self-diagnosis."

His outbursts, "jokes" and sometimes bizarre behaviour has left a trail of destruction in his professional life that stretches from his school days to his time at prestigious universities overseas.

He admits it was his electorate team who held the show together trying to pick up the slack from his illness and inability to concentrate.

Social media became a consuming addiction with the father of two avoiding playing board games with his two children to tap out 50,000 social media comments across 30 community pages each year.

"If there's an addiction and a focus it would have been online activity. I was always online,'' Dr Laming said.

 

 

 

Laming blames ADHD for 2007 investigation into AFP electoral rorts allegations

In 2007 the Queensland MP was the subject of a major AFP investigation into alleged electoral rorts in his office that ultimately resulted in no charges.

Intriguingly, Dr Laming believes it was his ADHD and his related inability to complete paperwork that was a key factor in the saga.

It is an assessment backed by his former staffer at the time Shane Godwin, who said the MP sometimes signed things and he didn't know what he was signing.

When discussing the ADHD diagnosis of his old boss Mr Godwin burst into laughter before saying "well, what a surprise!"

"Look, one of the best stories of the time working for Andrew was when he was being investigated by the Australian Federal Police,'' he said.

"We were both interviewed by Andrew's lawyer separately. He asked 'what was it like working there'. My answer was 'It's like working in any other workplace...then cyclone Andrew turns up and your entire plan is blown out of the water'.

"He's a firecracker. I often describe him as walking a fine line between genius and insanity."

Mr Godwin insists some of Dr Laming's critics have engaged in "a stitch up" designed to run him out of politics.

 

Sheena Hewlett.
Sheena Hewlett.

 

Peter Dowling. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
Peter Dowling. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

 

Sister of Queensland's infamous 'penis plonking' former MP one of Laming's accusers

One of Dr Laming's accusers is the sister of Queensland's infamous "penis plonking" MP.

Sheena Hewlett is a former LNP branch official whose brother, ex-Redlands MP Peter Dowling, was dumped by the party in 2014 over a sexting scandal where he sent women close-up pictures of his penis - one of them showing it plonked in a glass of wine.

Dr Laming has been involved in a long running feud with Ms Hewlett that culminated in her tearfully accusing him of harassing her online on Channel Nine, before he recently offered an apology in Parliament.

"I want to retract those comments and issue an unreserved public apology," he said in a statement.

But Dr Laming later admitted he didn't know what he was apologising for and suggested his enemies were trying to retrofit his engagement with some enemies as harassment.

"I think she gives as good as she gets,'' he said.

 

Samantha Maiden is news.com.au's national political editor

Originally published as Embattled MP reveals shock diagnosis



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