Case Number: 3499

Council Meeting: March 2024

Decision: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Principle: Privacy
Photographs and Graphics

Ruling Categories: Unfair Coverage


  1. On 17 January 2024 the New Zealand Herald published an article Police charge former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman over shoplifting allegations. Amanda Kennedy complained that the publication of a photograph of the former MP’s front door breached Principle (2) Privacy, and Principle (11) Photographs and Graphics. The complaint is not upheld. 

The Article

  1. The article outlined the charges, the court date, some background material, and said police had talked with Ms Ghahraman at her Grey Lynn home in Auckland. The story was accompanied by a photograph of two police officers at a wooden front door with a stained-glass window. 

The Complaint

  1. Ms Kennedy complained about the New Zealand Herald publishing the photograph of the former MP’s front door. Grey Lynn was a small neighbourhood and the door was distinctive and identifiable as the one belonging to Ms Ghahraman’s home. Having lived in Grey Lynn, Ms Kennedy said she recognised the door immediately. The New Zealand Herald was putting the former MP in danger at a time when she was “a daily target for repulsive hate and abuse”.
  2. Ms Kennedy said the Herald had failed in its duty of care, and their response had disregarded the widely known context of stalking and harassment that Ms Ghahraman had endured. Abuse, threats of violence, and excessive scrutiny due to her being a woman, a person of colour, a refugee, and an advocate for these communities had played a crucial part in developing a “negative mental health situation” which she stated had led to the “out-of-character behaviour of shoplifting”, Ms Kennedy said. The Herald was continuing this “stalking-type behaviour” when it decided to publish the photograph of the front door.

The Response

  1. The New Zealand Herald denied that it had identified Ms Ghahraman’s home by publishing the photograph. Grey Lynn had about 4100 homes and this one was not unique in its appearance, the Herald said. It was similar to the vast bulk of properties of its era. Anyone who was motivated to find Ms Ghahraman’s address could do so through the electoral roll or find it through the charging documents at the Auckland District Court. Care had been taken to closely crop the photograph so the street number was not visible. Other media had shown Ms Ghahraman outside on her street. The Herald was far more judicious in its selection of photographs than others had been. 
  2. The photograph had been published after discussion with the Green Party, and the New Zealand Herald did not believe it posed a risk to her safety. Ms Ghahraman had been asked for comment and had the opportunity to raise any concerns about her safety.
  3. The Herald said there was public interest in police visiting the home of a politician accused of a crime on the day they resigned as an MP, although in further comments Ms Kennedy questioned this, asking how publishing a photograph of Ms Ghahraman’s home served the public. 

The Discussion

  1. Ms Kennedy complained under Principle (2) Privacy, and Principle (11) Photographs and Graphics. Principle (2) states in part: “Everyone is normally entitled to privacy of person, space and personal information, and these rights should be respected by publications. Nevertheless, the right of privacy should not interfere with publication of significant matters of public record or public interest.”
  2. In this case, where an MP had been charged with a crime and resigned, the Media Council agrees that this is a matter of public interest. The fact that police officers visited her at home is a significant development, and because of the public interest in the case, the privacy principle was not breached.
  3. The important question Ms Kennedy raises is whether publishing such a photo made it possible for members of the public to identify Ms Ghahraman’s home and could have put her in danger, given that she had reported abuse, harassment and threats of violence against her. Principle (11) is relevant here and requires that “editors should take care in photographic and image selection and treatment”.
  4. While the Council accepts that people living in the neighbourhood might recognise the door, it seems unlikely that it is sufficiently distinctive that a member of the public would recognise it and be able to track Ms Ghahraman down. The suggestion that the cropped photograph of the door with no number visible would place her in danger is not substantiated. While the Media Council shares Ms Kennedy’s concerns about the reported harassment of Ms Ghahraman, the publication of the photograph does not breach any Media Council Principles.
  5. Decision: The complaint is not upheld

Council members considering the complaint were the Hon Raynor Asher (Chair), Tim Watkin, Marie Shroff, Richard Pamatatau, Rosemary Barraclough and Reina Vaai.
Council member Scott Inglis did not vote.


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