CLYDE SOARES AGAINST NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Case Number: 3186

Council Meeting: JANUARY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Headlines and Captions
Sensationalism

Overview

 

CASE NO: 3186

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF CLYDE SOARES AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: JANUARY 2022

 

The New Zealand Herald published an article on December 8, 2021, headlined Covid 19 Delta outbreak: GP caught giving medical certificates as vaccine exemptions.

Clyde Soares said the article was scurrilous and misleading and the headline was sensationalist and false.

The article reported Dr Jonie Girouard saying “What we’re trying to do is give a medical certificate saying that you’ve been assessed and it is not appropriate for you to receive the current vaccine.”

Mr Soares complained that this was different from the headline statement which was defamatory and wrong.

The Herald responded saying the article was accurate. Hidden camera footage showed Dr Girouard issuing a medical certificate – despite not conducting a physical examination – which is designed to dupe employers. The article stated only the Ministry of Health has the legal power to issue a vaccine exemption certificate.

The Media Council accepts the point that the headline is not technically correct, but it would be splitting hairs to say it was inaccurate. The article makes the status of Dr Girouard’s certificates quite clear. In general terms she is encouraging people to use her certificates to avoid vaccination requirements.

There is no evidence that the article was in breach of Principles relating to accuracy, fairness and balance or comment and fact. The Principle relating to headlines states Headlines, sub-headings, and captions should accurately and fairly convey the substance or a key element of the report they are designed to cover.

 The Media Council believes the headline fairly conveys a key element of the story, that the doctor was giving certificates that could lead to vaccine exemption. There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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