Case Number: 800

Council Meeting: September 2000

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Evening Post

Ruling Categories: Headlines and Captions
Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication

The New Zealand Press Council has not upheld a complaint against the Evening Post submitted by Councillor Scott Dalziell of the Hutt City Council. He complained about a headline and also objected to what he considered was a totally inadequate response to his letter to the editor.

He wrote to the editor on 14 May about an article published the previous day. When he rang on 17 May to determine what had happened to his letter, he was told the Evening Post intended publishing his letter in the letters to the editor column. Cr Dalziell claimed that he had written it purely as a letter of complaint although there was nothing specific in the letter to indicate that the letter was not meant for publication.

The complaint was about a headline 'Fluoridation killing elderly - councillor'. The complainant considered that the headline was a piece of "irresponsible scaremongering.". The editor responded the paper believed that the headline accurately expressed the content of the article which was commenting on claims made by another Hutt City councillor, Roger Styles.

The Council did not uphold the complaint as the headline clearly attributed the statement 'Fluoridation killing elderly' to the councillor making the claims, together with his photo. The first paragraph of the article expanded on that headline. The article itself outlined the background to a study which made links, albeit inconclusive, between the risk of dying from hip fracture in the elderly due to exposure to fluoride in the drinking water. The Evening Post had also offered to publish Dalziell's letter which set out his objection to the headline and his concerns about the views expressed in the article.