MALCOLM NORTH AGAINST THE DOMINION POST AND STUFF

Case Number: 2662

Council Meeting: MAY 2018

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: The Dominion Post

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Errors, Apology and Correction Sought
Unfair Coverage

Overview

Malcolm North complains that a Dominion Post/Stuff article dated February 22, 2018 breaches NZ Media Council Principle 1: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance.

An article was published on Stuff on February 22 then the same article was published inThe Dominion Post on February24.

The article discussed the Wellington based restaurant Muse Eatery & Bar being placed into liquidation.

The Complaint

The complaint is based on a Dominion Post/Stuff article titled ‘Wellington’s Muse Eatery & Bar put into liquidation’.

Mr North has complained the article breaches NZ Media Council Principle one citing two inaccuracies within the articles:

One

[Jozsef] Szekely was not ‘cut out’ of the business as the article states.I refer you to clause 22 of the judgment[1] that clearly states how he exited the business… nowhere does it state Szekely was ‘cut out’ of the business.”

Two

“Samuel North does not own Catering Ltd.It is owned by a trust and Samuel North is not a trustee.A search of the Company Office records will show this and this simple process has not been done.”

Mr North has said that the aforementioned incorrect information has caused his family “considerable embarrassment” and damage to their reputation.

Further, Mr North has remarked that the size of the article in The Dominion Post was ‘excessive’ because it ‘wasn’t newsworthy’.



[1] Szekely v Muse on Allen Limited [2017] NZHC 703 [11 April 2017]

The Response

Acting National Business Editor for The Dominion Post, Roeland van den Bergh referring to the judgment by Justice Mallon states that Mr Szekely was “excluded from Muse on Allen Limited by way of his shares in the company being transferred into Samuel North’s name without his consent.” Mr van den Bergh further remarks that the expression ‘cut out of their business’ which was used in the story “is a fair and accurate way of expressing the same.”

In relation to the inaccuracy about Samuel North being the owner of Catering Ltd.”Mr van den Berg advised that the online article had been “corrected” and “republished to reflect that Samuel [North] is not the owner.”

Mr van den Berg also advised Mr North that the “ownership error” would be further addressed by way of correction being “run in all newspapers that ran the story.”

The Decision

The Decision

From Mr North’s perspective, the words ‘cut out’ carry a connotation that Mr Szekely was forced to leave the business.Mr North refers to the judgment of the High Court[2] in explaining that differing circumstances resulted in the relationship between the partners of the business breaking down and Mr Szekely informing staff that he would not be returning to work in the business.

The Dominion Post included the phrase ‘cut out’ to refer to the transfer of Mr Szekely’s shareholdings in the business to Samuel North’s name without his consent.

The ruling by Justice Mallon does refer to the meeting held by the business partners without Mr Szekely present where it was decided to remove Mr Szekely as a director and the following day the Companies Office records were updated to remove Mr Szekely as a director. In her judgment, Justice Mallon has referred to Mr Szekely being excluded from the business.

For this particular complaint we find that accuracy has not been breached and therefore this is a not uphold on the phrase ‘cut out’.

Principle 1 - One: Not Upheld.

In regard to the complaint by Mr North that Samuel North was not the owner of Catering Ltd we agree with the complainant thatThe Dominion Post ought to have run a simple check through the Companies Office to verify this information.Whilst the error was avoidable we note thatThe Dominion Post acted promptly to remedy the situation by correcting this information and reloading the story online as well as adding a correction to all newspapers that ran the story.

Principle 1 - Two: Not upheld.

Media Council members considering the complaint were Chris Darlow, Liz Brown, Craig Cooper, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu, Hank Schouten, Marie Shroff, Christina Tay, Tim Watkin, Tracy Watkins

Jenny Farrell stood down to maintain a public member majority.



[2] Szekely v Muse on Allen Limited [2017] NZHC 703 [11 April 2017]

Malcolm North complains that a Dominion Post/Stuff article dated February 22, 2018 breaches NZ Media Council Principle 1: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance.

An article was published on Stuff on February 22 then the same article was published inThe Dominion Post on February24.

The article discussed the Wellington based restaurant Muse Eatery & Bar being placed into liquidation.

The complaint is based on a Dominion Post/Stuff article titled ‘Wellington’s Muse Eatery & Bar put into liquidation’.

Mr North has complained the article breaches NZ Media Council Principle one citing two inaccuracies within the articles:

One

[Jozsef] Szekely was not ‘cut out’ of the business as the article states.I refer you to clause 22 of the judgment[1] that clearly states how he exited the business… nowhere does it state Szekely was ‘cut out’ of the business.”

Two

“Samuel North does not own Catering Ltd.It is owned by a trust and Samuel North is not a trustee.A search of the Company Office records will show this and this simple process has not been done.”

Mr North has said that the aforementioned incorrect information has caused his family “considerable embarrassment” and damage to their reputation.

Further, Mr North has remarked that the size of the article in The Dominion Post was ‘excessive’ because it ‘wasn’t newsworthy’.



[1] Szekely v Muse on Allen Limited [2017] NZHC 703 [11 April 2017]

Acting National Business Editor for The Dominion Post, Roeland van den Bergh referring to the judgment by Justice Mallon states that Mr Szekely was “excluded from Muse on Allen Limited by way of his shares in the company being transferred into Samuel North’s name without his consent.” Mr van den Bergh further remarks that the expression ‘cut out of their business’ which was used in the story “is a fair and accurate way of expressing the same.”

In relation to the inaccuracy about Samuel North being the owner of Catering Ltd.”Mr van den Berg advised that the online article had been “corrected” and “republished to reflect that Samuel [North] is not the owner.”

Mr van den Berg also advised Mr North that the “ownership error” would be further addressed by way of correction being “run in all newspapers that ran the story.”

The Decision

From Mr North’s perspective, the words ‘cut out’ carry a connotation that Mr Szekely was forced to leave the business.Mr North refers to the judgment of the High Court[2] in explaining that differing circumstances resulted in the relationship between the partners of the business breaking down and Mr Szekely informing staff that he would not be returning to work in the business.

The Dominion Post included the phrase ‘cut out’ to refer to the transfer of Mr Szekely’s shareholdings in the business to Samuel North’s name without his consent.

The ruling by Justice Mallon does refer to the meeting held by the business partners without Mr Szekely present where it was decided to remove Mr Szekely as a director and the following day the Companies Office records were updated to remove Mr Szekely as a director. In her judgment, Justice Mallon has referred to Mr Szekely being excluded from the business.

For this particular complaint we find that accuracy has not been breached and therefore this is a not uphold on the phrase ‘cut out’.

Principle 1 - One: Not Upheld.

In regard to the complaint by Mr North that Samuel North was not the owner of Catering Ltd we agree with the complainant thatThe Dominion Post ought to have run a simple check through the Companies Office to verify this information.Whilst the error was avoidable we note thatThe Dominion Post acted promptly to remedy the situation by correcting this information and reloading the story online as well as adding a correction to all newspapers that ran the story.

Principle 1 - Two: Not upheld.

Media Council members considering the complaint were Chris Darlow, Liz Brown, Craig Cooper, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu, Hank Schouten, Marie Shroff, Christina Tay, Tim Watkin, Tracy Watkins

Jenny Farrell stood down to maintain a public member majority.



[2] Szekely v Muse on Allen Limited [2017] NZHC 703 [11 April 2017]