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Kevin Rudd was always hands on. No detail was too small for his expert gaze.

And that even extended to ensuring the story of his government had his input. When actor Rhys Muldoon, a close friend of Rudd's, wrote a lengthy feature in 2012 on Rudd’s last days as PM, the piece got some last-minute vetting. The evidence points directly to Rudd’s role in the changes.

Muldoon had written, in a piece for The Monthly, that ‘‘some’’ journalists were so grief stricken at the departure of Rudd in 2010 they cried. That was changed, with some last-minute help, to ‘‘many’’ journalists cried.

A document outlining the Rudd edits has been leaked to Fairfax Media and they range from the smallest detail around spellings of names to those that dealt directly with Rudd’s time as PM from 2007 to 2010.

The edits largely fall in two categories: they either paint Rudd in a far more heroic light or they were disparaging of his foes in Labor. 

In that latter vein was the deletion of a reference in Muldoon’s original text to Wayne Swan, his Labor enemy, as ‘‘a generous, decent man’’.

Another reference in Muldoon’s story to Tony Burke, a Gillard backer, got similar treatment with the words ‘‘Burke’s sorrow was palpable’’ getting the axe.

You couldn’t have opponents of Rudd appearing human, it seems.

But it was some of the additions to Muldoon’s text where Rudd was truly allowed to shine. 

‘‘I felt privileged and amazed to be sitting on the stairs with my friend, the recently toppled leader of Australia,’’ it read. ‘‘His lack of self pity was remarkable, but he was clearly hurting.’’

Quite.

Another change heralded Rudd’s calmness under fire, noting a ‘‘lesser man’’ would have reacted differently.

The edits never made it to print after they were caught by the then Monthly editor John van Tiggelen, who confronted Muldoon before the piece was published in early 2012. The edits and some emails were provided to Fairfax Media by a political staffer close to Van Tiggelen.

In one email Van Tiggelen wrote to Muldoon: ‘‘I can’t believe you let KR edit it. Either we forget that ever happened, or, if there is any fall-out, I tell the truth. Let’s be really fucking clear on this. The piece reflects well on Rudd. His attempt at editing of your piece does not.’’

Muldoon’s close relationship with Rudd had by 2012 already attracted attention. Reports described Muldoon as a confidant of Rudd and they even co-wrote a children’s book about the Rudd family pets, Jasper and Abby and The Great Australia Day Kerfuffle

While Rudd, as PM, once wrote a lengthy essay about the global financial crisis for The Monthly, by 2012, as he plotted to remove Julia Gillard, he appeared happier to work in the shadows, in this case letting his friend tell his story.

The lengths to which Rudd went to settle scores highlight to the deep bitterness between the Rudd and Gillard forces. They are emblematic of the dysfunction in Labor which contributed to such a heavy electoral defeat last year.

Another feature of the attempted edits to the Muldoon piece was a focus on Wayne Swan, a man Rudd clearly did not like.

‘‘In fact, people seem to have forgotten, this was not Rudd’s Super Profits Tax, it was Swan’s, and mysteriously, Swan had gone missing in action when the debate on the tax turned ugly,’’ the added words to the text read. ‘‘Rudd was left holding the baby.’’

Van Tiggelen recently raised the Rudd edits at a writers' festival in Darwin, broadcast on late night TV, to make a point about the perils of citizen journalism. ‘‘I said to him (Rhys) whatever you do don’t pass this by Kevin, so just before we go to press he passes it by Kevin and it comes back with Kevin’s edits. If that had gone through as a blog or whatever it would have been doctored by Kevin, no acknowledgment,’’ he said. ‘‘The whole thing would have gone through as an eye witness account of what happened in those last days.’’

A spokesperson for Rudd said: "Mr Muldoon sought certain clarifications at the time of writing the piece. What he did with them is a matter for Mr Muldoon."