Case Number: 2820

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2019

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Court Reporting
Unfair Coverage


David Tilson complained about a Stuff article originally headlined Auckland lawyer charged with …. The headline was changed toAuckland man charged with threatening to kill, threatening to cause grievous bodily harm after he advised Stuff that he was not a lawyer.

The incorrect occupation had originated from incorrect information on the charge sheet, which was later also corrected.

Mr Tilson argues that the reason his case made it to publication was because of the interest in a lawyer being charged; that there are many unemployed people in the courts that go unreported. He sees this coverage as having a detrimental effect on his family.

The media have a right to report court, as the eyes and ears of the people and in the interests of open justice.While Mr Tilson may be correct that this only gained attention because of the interest in a lawyer being up on such charges, this cannot be proven. It also becomes immaterial given the media’s right to report any matter that has not been suppressed.

Stuff was quick to correct the information on being advised of the error.

The Complaints Committee sees no grounds to proceed with this complaint.We would however expect Stuff, having embarked on reporting this case, to follow through and report the outcome of the case in due course.

Finding: No Grounds to Proceed