JAMES MARKWICK AGAINST RNZ
Case Number: 3067
Council Meeting: JULY 2021
Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Radio NZ
Balance, Lack Of
James Markwick complains about a story published on the RNZ website on 21 May 2021, headedDairy Company investigates employee after extreme views revealed. The story said dairy company Synlait had launched an investigation into one of its employees, Lee Williams, after allegations he had made white supremacist statements. Williams ran a YouTube channel that posted “far right” content, the story said, and a petition had been launched calling on Synlait to stop employing him. Williams had posted Islamophobic comments before the Christchurch massacre and had been banned from YouTube at least twice, the story said. Williams was quoted as saying there was no racist or violence-inciting content on his YouTube channel.
Mr Markwick objected to the use of the phrase “extreme views”. If someone believed in one law for all races, that did not make them an extremist, he said. It was unfair to label Williams “far right”. No evidence of white supremacist views was presented, he said.
RNZ responded that the reference to “extreme views” was a reasonable one in the light of the fact that he was subsequently dismissed by his employer for those reasons. The material on his YouTube channel had been reported about elsewhere and it was reasonable to use the description “far right”.
The Media Council believes it was not unreasonable to state that Mr Williams’ views were far right and white supremacist. It was quite open to RNZ to describe his views as extreme. The story was not unbalanced or unfair as Williams’ comments were reported.
There was no inaccuracy, lack of balance or fairness. No Principles have been breached.
Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.