Case Number: 3042

Council Meeting: MAY 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Balance, Lack Of
Offensive Language


Stu Dickson complained about an item published by Stuff on May 3, 2021 headlinedMan wants offensive number plate removed from circulation.

He said the story had no journalistic merit, was unbalanced and it was an insult to readers to suggest number plates starting with the letters NGR were offensive and should be removed. He said Stuff had also failed to disclose the complainant James Crow was a Green Party candidate for Napier who may have been pushing a woke political agenda, which would have allowed readers to decide how much weight they attach to it.

The Media Council regards this is a straight forward story about somebody who objected to the letter combination and wondered how it had slipped through when many other letter combinations had been avoided previously. The article included comment from Waka Kotahi which acknowledged the offence caused, said it would arrange to provide replacement plates, and would look at withdrawing the series from circulation.

The agency’s swift response to its mistake wrapped the story up and there was no reason, as Mr Dickson suggested, to seek comment from people who did not find the plate to be offensive. The fact that Mr Crow was a former Green Party candidate was also not relevant as this story had no political significance.

There is no suggestion of inaccuracy or any other grounds for considering this story to be in breach of any Media Council principles.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed