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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 07:22 GMT 08:22 UK
Rudd apology for strip club visit
by Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labor Party
Kevin Rudd has revived Labor's electoral chances
The leader of Australia's opposition Labor Party has apologised for visiting a strip club in New York while representing his country at the UN.

Kevin Rudd went to the club in Manhattan in September 2003 during a visit to the city as a UN observer.

Mr Rudd has released a statement apologising for any offence which his actions may have caused.

He is currently riding high in the polls, with a national election expected before the end of the year.

A bookish intellectual with a strong Christian faith, Kevin Rudd has a slightly dull, even nerdy public persona, so many Australians will have been surprised to read of his drunken, late-night visit to a New York strip club.

Popular figure

In September 2003 Mr Rudd had travelled to New York to attend the United Nations as a representative of the Australian government.

During his stay he was out for dinner with a New York-based journalist and a fellow Labor Party MP, after which they went on to a gentleman's club called Scores.

According to the Sunday Telegraph - one of Australia's leading tabloids - Mr Rudd was then asked to leave because of inappropriate behaviour.

In a statement released to reporters, the Labor leader has confirmed he visited the club but cannot recall precisely what happened on the night because he had too much to drink.

He apologised if he had caused any offence and said that he told his wife at the time.

Mr Rudd became the Labor leader in December last year and has enjoyed almost stratospheric approval ratings ever since.

It is unclear if this revelation will damage his chances of becoming prime minister in the election expected before the end of the year.

But in a country which once elected a champion beer drinker as its prime minister - Labor's Bob Hawke - many think it might actually enhance his chances of success.

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