Case Number: 2792

Council Meeting: JULY 2019

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: The Dominion Post

Ruling Categories: Letters to the Editor, Closure, Non-Publication


Terence Collier complained that he was unfairly stopped from expressing further comment in the Letters to the Editor column ofThe Dominion Post.

Mr Collier and another correspondent had been involved in a tit-for-tat exchange concerning Pharmac. This followed a Duncan Garner column in which he questioned the performance of Pharmac in funding cancer drugs, a stance that Mr Collier supported.

After several robust exchanges the editor called the correspondence to a halt.

In his last published letter Mr Collier claimed “… last year Pharmac returned $200 million to the government”.The other correspondent rejected this claim saying it was not true and was complete nonsense dredged up by a political party.He challenged Mr Collier to advance some credible facts to support his argument.

Mr Collier provided The Dominion Post with a further letter, citing several sources that he maintained supported his position, which they refused to publish saying the exchange had gone on long enough, had become a personal argument and was no longer doing any service to readers.

The editor has exercised his right to cut off correspondence and there is no indication he halted the debate without good reason - the arguments had run their course. He also noted that the letters were taking up space that could be used for other letters and topics.

We also note that he advised Mr Collier that he would consider publishing letters from both Mr Collier and the other correspondent on other topics.

The Media Council has for many years endorsed the editor’s right to determine which letters to publish, which letters to edit and when to draw correspondence on a particular topic to a close and we do so again here.

Finding: No Grounds to Proceed