DAVID HENRY AGAINST BUSINESS DESK

Case Number: 3044

Council Meeting: MAY 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Business Desk

Ruling Categories: Accuracy

Overview

David Henry, a director of NZ Future Forest Products (NZFPP), complained about a story published byBusinessDesk on April 13, 2021 headlined NZ First-linked forestry business faces liquidation application.

Mr Henry’s main concern was that the company was repeatedly referred to as linked to NZ First. He said neither he nor his companies had links to the party.

The story reported that Mr Henry is the son of NZ First lawyer Brian Henry, that his father was a founding director of NZFPP and that Janet Trotman (Winston Peters’ partner) was also a director. Both resigned last year although Brian Henry is still listed in court papers as counsel for NZFPP.

The story also said NZFPP was embroiled in controversy in 2019 after applying for $15 million in funding for a timber operation in Gisborne from the government’s $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, which was overseen by NZ First MP Shane Jones. Mr Jones recused himself from the decision-making process.

Although David Henry said neither he nor his company was linked to NZ First, there were a number of tie-ins. These links were set out precisely in the article for the public to read and weigh. It is noted that Mr Jones saw sufficient reason to recuse himself from involvement in the company’s Provincial Growth Fund application.

There were several connections through personnel with close links to NZ First to justify the link reported, although David Henry said neither he nor his company was linked to NZ First. There was also a clear public interest justification for publishing the link.

Finding: There are insufficient grounds for this complaint to proceed.

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