KEN ROYSON AGAINST NEWSHUB
Case Number: 3266
Council Meeting: MAY 2022
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Ruling Categories: Comment and Fact
Newshub published an article on April 6, 2022, headlined Brian Tamaki’s 24-hour curfew bail condition lifted.
The article was also promoted on Newshub’s website with the headline Free after 78 days: ‘Political prisoner’ Tamaki’s 24-hour curfew bail condition lifted.
The story reported a successful appeal which resulted in a bail variation so Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki could go on holiday.
Mr Tamaki had been in legal trouble since October last year when he was accused of organising and attending an anti-lockdown protest at Auckland Domain when gathering limits were 10 people. He faced one charge for that and three further charges relating to other matters. After his arrest he spent 10 days in the Mt Eden Remand Centre and a further 67 days under a 24-hour curfew.
The article reported Mr Tamaki’s lawyer as saying he was no longer on a 24-hour curfew and quoted Mr Tamaki’s comment on Twitter that he was “free after 78 days [as] a political prisoner.”
Ken Royson complained that many people reading this report would not understand the use of the quotes around the term “political prisoner.” Mr Tamaki was held in police cells for only a few days, not 78.
“I consider this Newshub report to be cheap and headline grabbing.”
The Media Council believes this was a straightforward report that Mr Tamaki was no longer on a 24-hour curfew. It did not say, as Mr Royson suggests, that Mr Tamaki was held in police cells for all that time.
The comment from Mr Tamaki’s Twitter feed that he was “free after 78 days as a political prisoner” is his opinion of what it means to be curfewed. Reporting somebody’s comments and putting them in quotes is a well understood reporting convention which makes it clear those are the words of the person being reported.
References to Mr Tamaki being a “political prisoner” are clearly statements of opinion which people are entitled to express as a matter of free speech. Readers would not be misled into thinking it was a statement of fact.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.