British bush survivor rows with dad over TV cash

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 26, 2009 at 12:10 AM EDT

The father of a British teenager who survived 12 nights in the Australian bush is locked in a feud with his son over the money made from television appearances, he told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Richard Cass, 54, said the relationship with his 19-year-old son Jamie Neale had turned "murderously nasty" over the cash he received for recounting his story.

The Mail on Sunday said Neale received 50,000 pounds (82,000 dollars, 58,000 euros) for the television contracts they both signed, but the teenager has yet to hand over Cass's slice of the money.

The north Londoner became lost on July 3 in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

"I feel I have been robbed by my own son. I was so glad when he was found but it's gone from being such a feelgood thing to being murderously nasty. The son I found isn't the son I went out to look for," Cass said.

"I'm not sure if we?re going to be on speaking terms for a very long time.

"He knows he's got to give me some of the money and I will be happy. I want him to make that step that will enable us to reconcile. I feel terrible that this dark incident has now blighted Jamie's return from the dead.

"I would back down in that I don't want to lose contact with him but it would gnaw away at me. I feel betrayed."

Cass said there was "an argument in Australia that says why should taxpayers pay for very expensive searches for idiots, especially foreigners, who don't take proper precautions," adding: "I feel tremendous sympathy with that view.

Neale's story made headlines around the world. Not yet well enough to fly, he is expected to remain in Australia for a further six to eight weeks.

The teenager said: "I do not plan to get into a public slanging match with my father and will deal with any issues in private.

"I had an agreement with him regarding his involvement in the '60 Minutes' interview -- he wanted his flights and the rescue party paid for.

"I agreed to that and intend to honour that commitment. I am yet to receive the '60 Minutes' money -- it is due next week -- but what I do with it is a matter for me."

Some Australian news websites carried comments accusing Neale of staging his survival feat to secure a lucrative media deal but the teenager said his extraordinary story was not a hoax.

He set off for a solo hike on July 3 but got hopelessly lost, eating only seeds and weeds with just a lightweight jacket for warmth in freezing overnight conditions.




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