A high-profile Tasmanian Liberal candidate has been accused of tricking a love interest into believing he was a man named Terry who worked as an engineer and lived in Melbourne.
The north-west multi-millionaire is running for the north-western seat of Braddon again in Saturday’s state election.
A woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she met Mr Brooks on dating website OKCupid in 2019.
She knew him as Terry — an identity he backed via text with a photo of what appears to be a VicRoads drivers’ licence, featuring a photo of Mr Brooks.
The text was captioned: “I’m real see”.
But the woman only received that photo after asking to see his identification, suspicious her long-distance partner was not who he said he was.
The pair were in contact from June 2019 to March 2020 and met in person in Sydney four times.
In the early days of their courtship, in a text exchange seen by the ABC, Mr Brooks told the woman: “I would never hurt anyone. It’s not in my nature or who I am”.
But she became suspicious about his background the first time they met in person after there was confusion during hotel check-in.
“He claimed that he’d booked under Terry Brooks and the receptionist said there was something for an Adam,” the woman said.
“I remember he could see that I was uncomfortable and he was at great pains to reassure me and to explain there’d been a mistake with the mix-up and showed me his business cards to reassure me.”
That helped the woman feel at ease, but the next time they met up she asked to see some photo identification, telling him she had been hurt on dating sites before.
She alleges he said he had lost his ID but texted the photo of his licence later.
During another date, out for dinner, she glimpsed the name “Adam Brooks” on his credit card.
She said he told her it belonged to his cousin and that he used it for tax purposes.
After receiving a text that was “clearly not meant for me”, the woman decided to search “Adam Brooks” online.
“That’s when I realised the person I had been in a relationship with for several months and had taken into my life and shared my life with was not the person that he had said that he was,” she said.
“I remember that morning, I remember how I felt when I saw those photos of the news stories that come up about the parliamentary investigation that had taken place into him when he was a minister, and the gravity of that reality.”
She ultimately broke it off after that revelation.
“When I did discover this, the betrayal and the hurt, the pain, the shame, all of it, was so acute,” she said.
The ABC has put a series of questions about dating profiles that appear to be Mr Brooks — and a business card for a “Terry Brooks” — to the Tasmanian Liberal Party repeatedly over the past week.
The number the woman used to text Mr Brooks matches that on the Terry Brooks business card, two versions of which have been seen by the ABC.
The name and contact details are the same on each, and Terry Brooks is listed as a principal consultant for Brooks Development.
Mr Brooks owns a company called Brooks Development Group.
In response to ABC questions on whether the profiles and card were Mr Brooks’, or whether he was being impersonated, party advisers have repeatedly said Mr Brooks “categorically denies this”, or “he denies the claims”, though would not clarify what, exactly, he denied.
Premier and Liberal leader Peter Gutwein has also, on three occasions, said he believed Mr Brooks’s version of events.
Shown one of the dating profiles by the ABC at a press conference this week, Mr Gutwein suggested the reporter may have “tricked it up”.
After the ABC reported on the online profiles on Thursday, Mr Gutwein suggested Mr Brooks was actually a victim of identity theft, saying: “He’s a good-looking bloke.”
Today, when asked again, Mr Gutwein said: “What you’re alleging in terms of those profiles, Mr Brooks has denied they’re his.”
“I have more important things to concern myself with than Mr Brooks’s love life. What I’m concerned about is keeping Tasmanians safe, ensuring that we’ve got a strong growing economy and importantly that we’ve got jobs for Tasmanians.”
The woman said the experience had a profound impact on her life. She said she had contacted the ABC after reading he had denied links to other dating profiles, arguing Braddon voters deserved to know the truth.
“I haven’t actually dated anyone since and I don’t know that I want to again,” she said.
“After an experience like this, it does fundamentally, for me at least, have a lasting impact on you as a person.”
The party and Mr Brooks have been contacted for comment.
Mr Brooks was in the Tasmanian Parliament between 2010 and 2019.
He is the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s Treasurer, a generous party donor and big vote-winner, helping the party snag majority government in 2014 with more than 16,000 votes.
His political career was cut short after he misled the Parliament about the use of a business email address, before correcting the record.
A subsequent Integrity Commission investigation related to the use of that email address found he misled former premier Will Hodgman about the nature of his involvement with the business, but found he did not have a material conflict of interest.
Mr Brooks was also found to have “accessed, collated, forwarded and then deleted” a number of relevant emails the night he was questioned about them in Parliament.
Mr Brooks has long maintained he did nothing wrong and that the Integrity Commission confirmed his innocence, including in The Advocate newspaper this year when he said: “It was very, very clear I was cleared.”
Soon after he was preselected, Tasmania Police confirmed Mr Brooks would be summonsed to court on allegations he had incorrectly stored ammunition. Mr Brooks has said he would vigorously defend the claims.
Mr Brooks is one of six candidates on the Liberal Party’s Braddon ticket.
Mr Gutwein’s campaign — ahead of Saturday’s state election — has focused on the “threat” of minority government.