Case Number: 3368

Council Meeting: JANUARY 2023

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff


Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Comment and Fact
Defamation/Damaging To Reputation


On December 28, 2022, Stuff published a story headed Illegal boarding house shut down after multiple breaches of fire regulations. The story reported that the boarding house was deemed dangerous and shut down five months after a young woman said she was raped in her room by a fellow tenant. The story covered the fact that Work and Income referred clients to the house, and interactions over safety standards with Auckland Council. The story said Stuff understood the manager was Angela Sun, who worked as a real estate agent and lived at the property before the Covid pandemic. She answered some questions from Stuff, the story said, but asked not to be named to protect her “other business interests”.

After the story was published, Ms Sun asked Stuff to remove her name from the story, alleging “defamation of my character” and saying aspects of the story were untrue. Stuff replied saying it was unclear what Ms Sun believed was defamatory and until she provided that detail her name would remain in the reporting. In her complaint to the Media Council, Ms Sun said she was neither the owner nor manager, she just rented the house. Regarding the rape case, there was insufficient evidence and the case was dismissed, she said. She repeated her request for her name to be removed from the story.

Ms Sun has not provided detail about what she believes to be inaccurate. The story does not state the rape as a fact, but reports that the woman said she was raped, so there is no inaccuracy in that part of the story. Ms Sun says she was not the manager, but considering her involvement in the situation and the lack of detail she has provided, the Media Council cannot say that this description is inaccurate.  The Council can find no other inaccuracy in the story. The state of emergency housing and breaches of safety standards are an important matter of public interest that Stuff was legitimately pursuing. It appears Ms Sun willingly answered Stuff’s questions and her replies were reported with no inaccuracy shown. It was not unfair to name her in such circumstances. No principles have been breached. 

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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