JULIE ROBERTS AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD
Case Number: 3395
Council Meeting: 8 May 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: New Zealand Herald
Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Ruling Categories: Misleading
The New Zealand Herald published an article on March 28, 2023, headlined: Posie Parker’s NZ visit: She’s entitled to share her views within limits - Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt.
Julie Roberts complained that Mr Hunt had made “numerous unsubstantiated, inaccurate, biased hyperbolic statements regarding trans people” and that he had also made “inaccurate and defamatory statements” about Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, a visiting British woman who had sparked debate and protest.
Ms Roberts said Mr Hunt had not provided evidence to support his claim that Rainbow people have been historically and disproportionately discriminated against.
He had also misled readers into believing acts of violence against LGBTQ came from outside the Rainbow community, provided no evidence to support his belief that westernised cultures were transphobic and used misinformation extolled by radicalised gender ideologues.
The NZ Zealand Herald rejected the complaint saying Mr Hunt’s article was clearly presented as opinion. As the Chief Human Rights Commissioner, he was entitled to offer his view on a public debate relating to free speech and Ms Roberts was welcome to disagree.
The NZ Herald also noted the Media Council had regularly ruled that readers did not have a right to not be offended.
The Media Council notes this was an opinion piece and clearly labelled as such. Mr Hunt was well qualified to express his views on human rights issues raised by the Posie Parker visit. Key points he made in the article were that trans rights are human rights, the need to balance freedom of speech with the right to live in peace and safety free from discrimination and that the state had not made arrangements to enable Ms Keen-Minshull to speak without being assaulted, intimidated or shouted down.
While some of Mr Hunt’s statements would provoke disagreement, as they did from this complainant, nothing he wrote was provably false or inaccurate. Given this was an opinion piece there was no requirement for the article to include any contrary views as balance.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.