Case Number: 605

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Otago Daily Times

A complaint against the Otago Daily Times for deleting the last paragraph of a letter to the editor, has been rejected by the New Zealand Press Council.

Mr J.Windsor complained that deleting the paragraph amounted to censorship. His letter, written in December, warned about the dangers of rabbit calicivirus disease and criticised the Director-General of Agriculture for his "premature" decision to allow the virus into this country.

The final paragraph, which accused the Director-General of usurping the powers of his political masters, was edited out of the version which appeared in the newspaper.

In response, the editor of the Otago Daily Times said the paper felt it was right to edit out an extreme view of an identified public servant without in any way censoring Mr Windsor's general criticism of the decision to allow rabbit calicivirus disease into New Zealand.

The council noted the letter carried a footnote saying it was abridged and that the newspaper retained the right to edit letters to the editor. The council found the deletion had not altered the substance of Mr Windsor's criticism in the letter and therefore rejected the complaint.