Case Number: 809

Council Meeting: December 2000

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Comment and Fact

The New Zealand Press Council has not uphold a complaint lodged by Noel Cox, chairman of The
Monarchist League of New Zealand, who objected to a New Zealand Herald opinion piece written by Kate
Belgrave in the 8th August 2000 issue. The article was headed 'Why we need hapless heroes' in which the writer was baffled by the 'blind enthusiasm' for the Queen Mother's attaining her 100th birthday. Noel Cox took particular exception to Kate Belgrave's statement about the Queen Mother that:

'There she stands, a still-healthy pensioner who is personally wealthy, has managed to spend 100 years
collecting non-means tested benefits and clearly has no immediate plans to do her nation a fiscally
responsible favour by dropping dead'. Further comments to which Noel Cox objected were references to the Queen Mother as 'Satan's own superannuitant' and Kate Belgrave's remark that 'I know she was nice to her husband, but then who the hell wouldn't be? He had 10 houses and an open cheque book'.

The Editor of the New Zealand Herald defended the Herald columnist's right to express her personal
opinion. She was clearly voicing her own individual view as the article was by-lined alongside her photo and name.

The Press Council clearly distinguishes between its treatment of opinion pieces and news reports and
consistently recognises columnists' right to free expression. Accordingly the complaint was not upheld.