STU DICKSON AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 3306

Council Meeting: SEPTEMBER 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact

Ruling Categories: Defamation
Unfair Coverage

Overview

Stuff published an article on August 12, 2022, headlined Labour MP Gaurav Sharma unloads on party in excoriating social media post. The report detailed the MP’s grievances with the Labour Party, its former senior whip Kieran McAnulty, current whip Duncan Webb, the Prime Minister’s Office and Parliamentary Service.

Stu Dickson complained the piece unfairly described Mr Sharma’s post as a “tirade”, a word which has negative connotations and would unfairly influence Stuff’s readers. The term was inflammatory and constituted opinion rather than news and there was no basis for labelling the post as such.

Stuff Editor-in-Chief Patrick Crewdson said he was satisfied that tirade was an apt description. “I realise it’s a strong word, but it’s warranted by the nature of the accusations and criticisms levelled without evidence in Sharma’s lengthy post.”

The Media Council notes that Mr Sharma’s Facebook post ran to 4700 words and mentions raising 66 different allegations against one staff member. It also notes Stuff gave Mr Sharma the chance to provide proof, reported his response and offered him the chance to further explain his actions.

A common dictionary definition of the word “tirade” is “a long angry speech of criticism or accusation”. Clearly it is a strong word, but the Council does not believe its use in this article was unreasonable.

 

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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