Case Number: 821

Council Meeting: May 2001

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Greymouth Evening Star

Ruling Categories: Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication
Taste Lack of

The New Zealand Press Council has rejected a complaint from Graeme Axford against the
Greymouth Evening Star.

Mr Axford had complained that the editor should have abridged a letter to the editor from Robert Mallinson, dated 2 January this year, which had made reference to earlier correspondence from R Phillips. Mr Axford particularly objected to one paragraph in Mr Mallinson's letter which read:
"R Phillips apparently lives in a 10 square metre house with no building consent. I suggest he applies for one urgently."

Mr Axford believed the letter was out of order and the offending comments should have been deleted. In turn he also complained that the editor intended abridging a letter he wrote criticising Mr Mallinson.

The editor responded that there was no reason for him to apologise for a letter that was a response to another letter and which was "typical of the robust debate that correspondence columns often generate". Secondly, he had no objection to the tenor of the letter Mr Axford submitted for publication but he had no intention of bowing to Mr Axford's demand it be published unabridged.

In the Press Council's Statement of Principles it states the selection and treatment of letters are the prerogative of editors who are to be guided by fairness, balance and public interest in correspondents' views.

The Press Council decided there were no special circumstances in this case which would override the right of the editor to decide the treatment of letters to the editor. The complaint was not upheld.