R HIGGINSON AGAINST THE DOMINION

Case Number: 699

Council Meeting: JULY 1998

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: The Dominion

A complaint over the editing of a letter sent to The Dominion, has not been upheld by the New Zealand Press Council.

Mr R.Higginson of Woodville complained that a letter he had written to the editor in January had been published in heavily edited form. He contended, in an ironical vein, the published version was so different from the one he wrote, that he wrote a second letter to the newspaper suggesting someone else had written the letter and used his name. The published letter did not have “abridged” at the end.

When Mr Higginson complained to the editor, the response was that the word
“abridged” was used by The Dominion when letters were substantially curtailed. In the editor’s opinion the phraseology in the original letter had been “tightened up” in the editing process but the general thrust had been maintained. Mr Higginson disagreed and complained to the Press Council.

The Council found that comments deleted from the original letter did not alter his criticism of anti-smoking lobbies, which was the central point. The deleted portion served as an introduction and acted as an aside to the main content of the letter. His complaint that there was little, if any similarity between the letter written and the published version, was not upheld.