J.WATSON AGAINST THE KAPI-MANA NEWS

Case Number: 617

Council Meeting: JULY 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Kapi-Mana News

A complaint over the non-publication of a letter written to the editor of the Kapi-Mana News has not been upheld by the New Zealand Press Council.

Mr John Watson of Titahi Bay had written to the newspaper disputing the published assertions made by a member of the Porirua Council, Cr Kevin Watson (no relation) but the letter was not published. In a subsequent exchange of correspondence, the editor advised the letter had not been published because of a threat of defamation the newspaper had received from lawyers representing Cr Watson following publication of an earlier letter from Mr Watson.

The Council considered that the assertions to which Mr Watson sought to reply, were not sufficiently special to impose on the newspaper or its editor an obligation to grant a right of a published reply. It followed that the decision to publish or not fell within editorial discretion. In the circumstances the editor was perhaps unwise to have advised Mr Watson of the particular reason for having rejected the letter but otherwise had acted completely within the bounds of editorial discretion.