CLARE CONNELL AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 614

Council Meeting: MAY 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

A complaint against the New Zealand Herald accusing the newspaper of a breach of privacy has been dismissed by the New Zealand Press Council.

Clare Connell of Auckland complained to the Press Council about a feature article in the Herald on 3 February which traversed the so-called Bogle-Chandler mystery deaths in Sydney 33 years ago.

The complaint was one of the few involving privacy that the Council has received since it put new procedures in place 12 months ago. After reviewing the circumstances the Council decided, that in this case, privacy had not been breached, and so dismissed the complaint.

In the article, the names and ages of Dr Bogle's and Mrs Chandlers children were given, thereby allowing -- said the complainant -- identification of the now adult children. This was, she said, an unacceptable intrusion on their privacy.

She asked the Press Council to determine whether the fact that some information was publicly available and of interest to the public justified the intrusion into someone's life and exposure of their family history.

She said she had written to the Herald to complain about what she saw as intrusion, but her letter was neither acknowledged nor published.

Responding to the Press Council on the complaint, the editor of the newspaper said he failed to see why the article about a crime revisited should be regarded as exceptionable.

The editor, Mr Peter Scherer wrote, among other points, that as far as the children were concerned, the article reported only previously published, publicly ascertainable facts -- the first names and ages of the children involved. No one's privacy had been invaded, nor was anyone harassed in compiling the feature, he said. Clare Connell's letter had not been replied to because it was assumed it was for publication and non-published letters were not acknowledged.

Clare Connell was unpersuaded by Mr Scherer's case. She said she acknowledged that the names of the Bogle-Chandler children were publicly available,. but asserted that it may be inappropriate to publish publicly available information.


The Council found that in the case of the Connell complaint, the Herald's reference to the Bogle-Chandler children was, as the editor said in his defence, unexceptionable. A minimum of information about the couple's children was published in its feature article, probably less than was published at the time of their deaths in 1963, and no effort was made to pursue them for their input to the report.

The feature article, given that new evidence had come to light, was a matter of legitimate public interest which did not dwell in any way on the offspring of the couple involved.

Mr Scherer, a representative of the Publishers' Association on the Press Council was not present at the meeting when the complaint was considered.