MRS G ROSEVEAR AGAINST THE NEW ZEALAND PRESS ASSOCIATION

Case Number: 602

Council Meeting: FEBRUARY 1996

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: NULL

The New Zealand Press Council has not upheld a complaint that a report produced by the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) had been unauthorised and had disregarded a family's privacy and emotional stress.

The complaint arose from a series of reports by NZPA concerning the violent death of Mr Stanley Rosevear, a New Zealander working in Papua New Guinea as a works supervisor for an engineering firm. Two reports on 9 August, one of which quoted a statement from a relation of Mr Rosevear, stressed that the information on the circumstances surrounding the death were sketchy and imprecise. A third report on 10 August quoted Mr Rosevear's former wife, Mrs Glenda Rosevear as saying that the family had been given confidential information about the death but that it was upsetting them that its exact cause had not yet been determined. The report also quoted Mrs Rosevear as saying that the family were still considering whether they should approve of an autopsy and that some were reluctant to agree.

On 7 November, Mrs Rosevear complained that she had stressed to the reporter concerned, that what she was saying was confidential and that she did not wish to make a public statement at that time. The story had made it appear that she had given an interview and was published with complete disregard of the family's privacy and emotional stress.

On 9 November, the news editor of NZPA replied, saying that he had conducted a thorough investigation and was satisfied the association had acted in a professional manner. Mrs Rosevear then complained to the Press Council repeating the essential complaints to the news editor. She said that family members could hear what she said when talking to the reporter. Has she relayed to him the information she had received from Papua New Guinea, the story would have differed greatly from that published.

On 22 November, the news editor of NZPA informed the Press Council that the reporter responsible for the report of 10 August had identified himself to Mrs Rosevear, that he had made clear that he wished to print the context of their interview and that Mrs Rosevear had not indicated that she did not wish to comment. The interview had been taped and quotes used were directly from the tape. In the light of advice from a colleague responsible for the reports on 9 August, the reporter was aware of the sensitivity of the issue and had acted appropriately. The news editor


expressed regret that Mrs Rosevear should have been caused additional stress, but said that he had no reason to believe that NZPA had acted in other than a professional manner.

In view of the direct conflict in the testimony before them, and because of the grief that Mrs Rosevear and her family had undergone, members of the Press Council considered the complaint with particular care. They could, however, find no fault on the steps taken by NZPA, and did not uphold the complaint.