ALLAN HALSE AGAINST NZ HERALD

Case Number: 3315

Council Meeting: OCTOBER 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Headlines and Captions

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Defamation
Defamation/Damaging To Reputation
Misrepresentation

Overview

The New Zealand Herald published an article on September 1, 2022, headlined: Workplace anti-bullying campaigner rapped across knuckles.

The story was based on a report of an Employment Court judgment which criticised Allan Halse’s conduct and behaviour during legal tussles with the former Bay of Plenty District Health Board. It also reported how the court had described his challenge to an earlier Employment Relations Authority decision as an abuse of process and vexatious. The article led off with Mr Halse’s reaction to the decision and concluded with further comment from him in which he said the judgment undermined basic New Zealanders rights and that he would continue to work to protect bullied workers.

Mr Halse complained that the story lacked balance and inferred he had given up representing bullied workers. He also took issue with a line in the story that he was self-proclaimed as New Zealand’s leading anti-workplace bullying advocate, when in his view this was a matter of public record.

He disputed the Court  judgment, said the reporting of it was sloppy and that the headline was offensive and demeaning for someone whose only “crime” was to speak out publicly when bullied workers were suicidal.

 The story centres on what appears to be a straightforward report of a court judgment and Mr Halse’s comment on it. There is no evidence that the story was inaccurate, unfair or unbalanced. The headline reflected a key element of the judgment. It was also factually correct to say Mr Halse was “self-proclaimed as New Zealand’s leading anti-workplace bullying advocate”, given that is how he describes himself in his communications. The Media Council can see no basis for this complaint.

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