Case Number: 1073

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2006

Verdict: Declined

Publication: Gisborne Herald

Ruling Categories: Names Suppression Of

The Press Council received a complaint against The Gisborne Herald of an alleged breach of an interim name suppression order.
In the circumstances it has declined to adjudicate on the complaint.
The complaint was made by a man who had been charged with three offences. When he initially appeared in the District Court, the man’s name was suppressed but published by The Gisborne Herald. It was this breach that led to the complaint. Later, upon conviction, suppression of the man’s name was discontinued.
A breach of a Court suppression order is a criminal offence and concern has been raised in the past as to the propriety of the Council adjudicating in its ethical role when there is a possibility of legal proceedings. For this reason the Council recently obtained the views of the Solicitor-General on whether it was appropriate for there to be such consideration.
The Council accepts the view expressed by the Solicitor-General that there may be possible prejudice if the Council ruled on a breach of a suppression order when there was still a possibility of a prosecution initiated either by the Solicitor-General or the Police.
In the circumstances the Council has determined that it will not consider breaches of suppression order complaints unless the complainant satisfies the Council that the appropriate authority has resolved to take no further action, or the criminal action has been taken and resolved by the Courts. In future potential complainants will be advised that while a complaint may be accepted, so that the time limits are not infringed, no action will be taken by the Council on the complaint until the complainant provides confirmation that the appropriate authority proposes to take no action or that action has been taken and resolved.
In the present case the newspaper admitted that it made a mistake.
The Council resolved that it would not proceed further with this complaint.