Case Number: 782

Council Meeting: June 2000

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Headlines and Captions
Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication

The New Zealand Press Council has not upheld two complaints against the New Zealand Herald made by C Barradale.

The first complaint concerned a caption 'Queen divides nation' which appeared as a banner on the front page of the 14 March 2000 issue of the New Zealand Herald, promoting an article inside the paper. The complainant believed that the words gave the impression that the Queen herself was personally involved in the controversy surrounding the Auckland mayor's removal of the royal portraits from the council's debating chamber.

The caption 'Queen divides nation' publicizing the article was superimposed upon a 40 year old portrait of the Queen in her regalia and quite clearly was referring to the portrait itself giving rise to a division of opinion. The article featured an ongoing debate about the removal of the 40 year old portraits and this had created two distinct and divergent opinions on the role and status of the monarchy. The banner complained of did not give the impression that the Queen herself was personally involved in the controversy

C Barradale secondly complained that a letter written to the newspaper had not been responded to. The New Zealand Herald understood that this was a letter to the editor for publication. C Barradale had already had a letter published on this same topic, on the day when the article in question had been published, and the editor felt it was not appropriate to run another letter. The editor had no reason to believe that C Barrradale's letter was anything other than a letter to the editor and as such had every right to neither publish nor respond to it.