Com­plaint up­held by Press Coun­cil

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

In Novem­ber 2014 Kapi-Mana News pub­lished an ar­ti­cle about the com­plainant’s brother and his dis­pute with her and other mem­bers of their fam­ily over the ad­min­is­tra­tion of their mother’s es­tate.

There had been ex­ten­sive lit­i­ga­tion over a num­ber of years and the ar­ti­cle re­ported that the brother had ‘‘ not seen a cent of his share of the es­tate’’ and had re­cently lodged an ap­pli­ca­tion for leave with the Privy Coun­cil.

The com­plaint was that the ar­ti­cle was in­ac­cu­rate, un­fair and un­bal­anced and that the apolo­gies and cor­rec­tion of­fered by the pub­li­ca­tion were in­ad­e­quate.

In par­tic­u­lar the brother said he ‘‘ had not seen a cent of his share of the es­tate’’ when he had been paid his share in full.

The pro­posed ap­peal to the Privy Coun­cil was on a costs award of $2000 and be­low the thresh­old for such ap­peals.

It was not on the sub­stan­tive dis­pute.

In 2009 the same re­porter had writ­ten, and Kapi-Mana News had pub­lished, an ar­ti­cle about the dis­pute’s ear­lier stages.

At that time the com­plainant com­plained about im­bal­ance and in­ac­cu­ra­cies and ap­pears to have re­ceived an apol­ogy and an ac­knowl­edge­ment that there were in­ac­cu­ra­cies.

On re­ceiv­ing the ini­tial com­plaint [in the lat­est case], the edi­tor ac­knowl­edged one er­ror of fact and apol­o­gised ver­bally.

He later sent a draft let­ter of apol­ogy from the re­porter.

How­ever the com­plainant con- sidered this apol­ogy in­com­plete and in­ad­e­quate, given the pre­vi­ous his­tory with the same re­porter.

On De­cem­ber 9, 2014, KapiMana News pub­lished a cor­rec­tion and apol­ogy, ad­dressed to the ex­ecu­tors of the es­tate.

It had pre­vi­ously been sent to the com­plainant, who found it in­ad­e­quate, but there had been no re­sponse to her re­quest for amend­ments.

In the view of the Press Coun­cil, and in­deed as ac­cepted by all par­ties to the com­plaint, the ar­ti­cle pub­lished by Kapi-Mana News was un­bal­anced and con­tained at least one in­ac­cu­racy.

It was in breach of Press Coun­cil Prin­ci­ple 1.

All par­ties are agreed that, par­tic­u­larly in view of his knowl­edge of the his­tory, the re­porter should have con­tacted the com­plainant and/or her fam­ily to ob­tain their side of the story and to check for ac­cu­racy.

If he had done so, he would have been fully in­formed and in a po­si­tion to write a more bal­anced ar­ti­cle.

The re­porter should also have checked the court records that are public doc­u­ments.

It was in­ac­cu­rate for the brother to say that he ‘‘ had not seen a cent of his share of the es­tate’’ when there is clear ev­i­dence that he was paid his share.

How­ever, and more im­por­tantly, the im­pli­ca­tion of the ar­ti­cle is that he was seek­ing leave to ap­peal to the Privy Coun­cil against a de­ci­sion about the mer­its of his claim against the es­tate.

In fact leave is sought to ap­peal only against a 2003 de­ci­sion of the Court of Ap­peal award­ing costs of $2000 against him.

In ad­di­tion, the ar­ti­cle does not men­tion that the Court of Ap­peal had al­ready de­nied him leave to ap­peal to the Privy Coun­cil.

Th­ese in­ac­cu­ra­cies make the po­ten­tial ap­peal ap­pear much more sub­stan­tial than it is and have not been cor­rected.

The Press Coun­cil finds that the orig­i­nal ar­ti­cle was in breach of Prin­ci­ple 1 and while ac­knowl­edg­ing that ef­forts have been made to pro­vide a rem­edy, also finds that the cor­rec­tion printed on 9 De­cem­ber was in­ad­e­quate.

To that ex­tent the com­plaint is up­held.

The full Press Coun­cil de­ci­sion is avail­able at press­coun­cil.org.nz

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