TIMOTHY LOLE AGAINST RNZ
Case Number: 3175
Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2021
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Radio NZ
CASE NO: 3175
RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF TIMOTHY LOLE AGAINST RNZ
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: DECEMBER 2021
RNZ published an article on November 4, 2021, titled Oxford criminologist outraged by NZ women’s prisons.
The top of the story carried a composite image of a woman behind some razor wire. The image was captioned “Mihi Bassett attempted suicide after repeatedly being gassed in her cell at Auckland Women’s Prison.”
Timothy Lole complained that the use of pepper gas on her was very different from being “gassed” which had associations with Nazi concentration camps and the extermination of rabbits.
He also took issue with the use of the razor wire in the composite image which he said added an intensity designed to alarm.
Responding to the complaint RNZ amended the caption to make it clear this was a composite image but defended its use as it highlighted the fact Ms Bassett was a prisoner.
It also stood by its statement that women were gassed in their cells with pepper spray. The Cell Buster product used by Corrections was delivered using a wand under the cell door, filling the cell with the gas.
The Media Council can see no reason that the use of pepper spray in a gas should not be described as “gassing.” It does not always have the connotation referred to by Mr Lole. There was no inaccuracy in using that verb, which has a plain meaning.
It also does not believe there were any grounds for the complaint about the image given that razor wire is widely used in New Zealand prisons, although RNZ was right to amend the caption to acknowledge it was a composite image.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.