Case Number: 606

Council Meeting: APRIL 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Hawke's Bay Hearld-Tribune

A complaint by Mr Wayne Church against the Hawke's Bay Herald Tribune has been dismissed by the New Zealand Press Council.

On 23 December 1995 the Herald Tribune published an article headed: "The meaning of Christmas" with the following sub heading in large print - "Hawke's Bay church leaders urge people to cut through the clutter of Christmas and get to the heart of the matter this festive season. Staff reporter Bronwyn Bennett asked them what Christmas means to them and what they expect from it."

On 29 December Mr Church submitted a letter to the editor for publication saying, among other things, that the church leaders advocate the discredited myth of the Christian Christmas which, in his view, is demonstrably untrue.

The editor decided that Mr Church's letter did not merit publication, that Mr Church was out of court in suggesting that his views were suppressed - the Herald Tribune published 16 letters from him last year.

The Press Council has always upheld the right of editors to decide what letters to publish, unless there are exceptional circumstances. There are no such circumstances on this case and the complaint has therefore been dismissed.