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Aussie Media Chase Lewinsky Rumor

September 17, 1998

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ A rumor that Monica Lewinsky is vacationing in Australia sent the nation’s media pack into a frenzied race today to find her.

Mike Berwick, the mayor of Douglas Shire, started the mad rush by telling Radio 4CA he had heard a rumor that the 24-year-old former White House intern was visiting the Port Douglas resort in far north Queensland.

``I’ve heard that it is correct that she is in town and I heard that last night,″ he said.

In Los Angeles, Ms. Lewinsky’s spokeswoman, Judy Smith, refused to comment on where the former intern was.

At least two Australian TV stations claimed to have a video of a dark-haired young woman bearing a slight resemblance to Ms. Lewinsky boarding a boat for a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. However, the woman in the Channel 10 TV video was not Ms. Lewinsky _ a fact reporters discovered this afternoon when the boat returned to port.

Confirmation of the rumors proved elusive throughout the day.

One account had Ms. Lewinsky staying at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, where President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton stayed during their 1996 presidential visit. An alternative version had her staying at an apartment in the area owned by her father.

Ms. Lewinsky was said to have slipped into town to escape the media glare over her liaison with the U.S. president.

The manager of Port Douglas Real Estate, Tim Ferrier, said Ms. Lewinsky was seen eating at the exclusive Nautilus Restaurant on Wednesday night _ a claim restaurant manager Carmel Forrest denied.

``Honestly, neither I nor the staff know anything about her being here,″ Forrest said. ``I would be very surprised in the circumstances if she did because this is where Bill Clinton dined when he was here. She would hardly be likely to return here given what the president is going through.″

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