The husband of a woman who told New Zealand Women’s Weekly that she had been abused has complained to the Press Council that the publication did not ask for his side of the story and that it published the first names of the couple’s children, thus identifying both them and him. Although most of the 11 members of the Press Council considering the matter upheld the complaint on those grounds, three of them agreed with NZWW that the importance of publishing the story of a woman who said her partner had abused her outweighed the need to get comment from both sides.

The complainant was not consulted before publication of the article accusing him of abusing his ex-partner, but the council was split as to whether that was acceptable:

“Three members of the Council disagree with the majority in connection with Principle one. These members agree with NZWW when it says the public interest overrode the requirement for balancing comment from the complainant to be published. They also note that the article (as opposed toNZWW’s comment on the complaint) does not endorse Ms Roderick’s account of the abuse.”

The complainant also said the magazine should not have published the names of his children, as that violated their privacy and identified him as the alleged perpetrator of the abuse (which he denies).

The Press Council ruled:

“The Council, unanimously, sees no basis for the magazine identifying the couple’s children. Principle three is clear. In cases involving young children ‘editors must demonstrate an exceptional degree of public interest to override the interests of the child or young person’. This is not one of the cases the Principle refers to. The purpose of this article could have been served just as well without the children having been identified.”

Peter Fray

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