COMPLAINT AGAINST WESTPORT NEWS

Case Number: 3029

Council Meeting: MAY 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Westport News

Ruling Categories: Children and Young People
Court Reporting
Errors, Apology and Correction Sought
Privacy

Overview

This is a complaint about a court story published by the Westport News on March 25, 2021 which reported the early ending of a home detention sentence of a man following the premature birth of his baby.

The man’s partner* complained the article had given details of her new born baby who was in a critical condition in Christchurch Women’s Hospital. She had not given consent to this and this had caused undue emotional stress at this difficult time. She was also worried about the fallout this article could cause.

“Westport is a small community and I was reluctant to announce the birth of my child due to its condition.”

She had received messages from people who she did not associate with and believed this was a breach of her privacy and her baby’s. She asked the paper for an apology and retraction. Her complaint is that the paper breached Media Council principles 2 (Privacy), 3 (Children and young people) and 12 (Corrections).

Firstly, members of the Media Council who looked at this complaint wish to extend their sympathy and best wishes to the complainant and her family who have clearly had a difficult time.

However, we cannot find fault with the Westport News. There appears to be nothing in the report that was not said in open court and therefore in the public arena.

The complainant was not named in the article and does not share the name of the man referred to in the report. Her baby was also not named or even identified by gender.

It is therefore hard to see merit in any argument that there had been a breach of any the Media Council principles cited.

There were no grounds for the complaint to be referred to the full Council.

*The complainant’s name has not been mentioned here as to do so would defeat her wish to maintain her privacy.

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