Investigations were under way yesterday into who lobbed Vegemite sandwiches at Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard as she toured a Queensland school.
Gillard tried to play down the prank on Wednesday at Brisbane’s Marsden State High School.
“One kid thought he might just be a little bit naughty,” she said.
However, the sandwich “whodunnit” hit the headlines.
“I didn’t see a sandwich in the air,” Gillard told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) radio yesterday. “I did see half a sandwich on the ground. What I actually saw was screaming, over-excited and enthusiastic kids being very warm and very friendly.”
School principal Alan Jones and his staff quickly identified a culprit and suspended him for two weeks.
However, Kyle Thomson, 16, told reporters he was “not the one that threw the sandwich” and urged the school to “get its facts right.”
Two sandwiches were in fact thrown.
TV footage showed a first bounce off another student in a noisy crowd, but a second only just missed, falling behind Gillard’s back.
Thomson told Channel Nine he tried to block the sandwiches covered with Australia’s favorite sticky paste.
“I hit the sandwich out of the kid’s hands because he threw it and there was another one so I hit it out of his hand,” he said.
Brisbane’s local radio described the incident as “sandwich-gate” and interviewed Gillard and Kyle, who told the prime minister he was innocent.
“It’s not my job to be saying something different,” she said, offering her sympathy.
Gillard laughed when asked if there would be a parliamentary pardon, saying it was a matter for the school principal.
“Hopefully the truth will come out,” Thomson said.
His mother, Anna, said she believed her son and the incident had been blown out of all proportion.
“I honestly wonder if he would have been suspended on the first day without all the investigations being done if it wasn’t the prime minister,” she said, adding that she wanted all TV footage shot of the incident reviewed as part of the inquiry.
“I’m sure she’s had more thrown at her than a sandwich throughout her life,” the mother said.