Case Number: 593

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 1995

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: The Dominion

CASE NO: 593/594

Complaints by a Hatfields Beach resident, Mr B.Varey, against the Rodney Times and The Coaster have been dismissed by the New Zealand Press Council.

The complaints concerned the failure of the newspapers to publish letters which Mr Varey had written and, which he claimed, should have been published.

The complaint against the Rodney Times concerned a letter over the closing of a right of way to the beach alongside his property. He had mown the right of way for 30 years, but now with advancing years had decided not to continue and advised the Mayor accordingly. The upshot was that the council erected a barrier across the entrance to prevent its further use.

Mr Varey then wrote to the Rodney Times setting out his objections to the proposal, but this letter was not published.

He wrote another letter to The Coaster about traffic hazards in the area, accident prevention and pedestrian safety. A few days later he delivered a copy of the same letter to the Rodney Times . Neither newspaper published the letter. The editor of the Rodney Times telephoned Mr Varey and told him the letter was too long and suggested Mr Varey rewrite the letter. Mr Varey was not prepared to do that and suggested the editor rewrite it himself, which the editor declined to do. Not satisfied, Mr Varey wrote to the Press Council.

The editor of The Coaster advised the Council he had not communicated with Mr Varey but also held the view that the letter was too long and exercised his discretion not to publish.

The Council found that both letters were capable of abridgement, but Mr Varey had not taken the offered course. It seemed that in both cases the decision not to publish lay within the discretion of the editors.

The complaint was dismissed.