Winston being begged to drop cases against journos

Journalists like to door-step people, spread their secrets all over their newspapers, out them for all sorts of mis-deeds. What they don’t like is people coming back at them hard for it.

Hence the weapons grade whining from journalists over Winston Peters and National’s dirty hit job against him.

Journalists stick together worse than politicians. When one of their own is attacked they club together.

Winston Peters should drop legal action against two New Zealand journalists who reported on his superannuation overpayments, says the Media Freedom Committee.

Last month, the Deputy Prime Minister’s legal team served court papers on nine people, including former National ministers and two journalists, Newshub’s Lloyd Burr and Newsroom’s Tim Murphy, over the issue.

Peters has alleged a breach of privacy, and is seeking documents from the parties named in the legal action to try to find who leaked the information to the media about the seven-year overpayment.

The Media Freedom Committee condemned the legal action against the journalists, and also expressed its concern about Peters’ attempts to recover confidential information – telephone records, documents and notes – from them as part of the proceedings.

Committee chairwoman Miriyana Alexander said journalists had a fundamental right to protect their sources, and could claim privilege under the Evidence Act to do so.

Yes, and there is the possibility for s68(2) to be overturned too. You see public interest is a double-edged sword. If it was in the public interest, as the journalists claim, to reveal the personal details of their target, then it is also in the public interest to reveal who supplied them. This is particularly relevant in politics, where hit jobs are mounted. Kiwi journalists have played fast and loose for too long. They really got the push for using illegally sourced materials with Hager’s own Dirty Politics hit job against me.

It is with some personal pleasure that I see Tim Murphy under the gun after he argued the Herald was perfectly entitled to spread my private information around…an argument they eventually lost when I obtained an injunction against them.

She said journalists in a democratic society such as New Zealand should be free to do their job without interference and intimidation from politicians.

Yes, but what about when those same journalists intimidate other people?

Alexander said it was an alarming development that Peters was seeking payment of “general damages” from the journalists for compensation for allegedly breaching his privacy.

“The significant public interest in an MP being overpaid superannuation overrode any entitlement to privacy.

“The journalists facing legal action, and others covering the story, were simply doing their job and, in fact, the issue demanded scrutiny given Mr Peters was seeking re-election to Parliament. Voters were entitled to know what had happened.

“Mr Peters could have cleared the matter up by explaining at the outset how the seven-year overpayment occurred, how much he had been overpaid and how much he paid back. Instead, those details remain unknown.

“The Media Freedom Committee believes Mr Peters should drop the legal action against the two journalists,” Alexander said.

Why should he? It was private and he had every expectation of it remaining private. It wasn’t his error, and there are thousands of others likewise caught up in similar errors…but we don’t see the media spreading their private information around, just Winston’s.

Today, the Herald reported that National’s campaign manager and MP, Steven Joyce, publicly denied leaking details of Peters’ superannuation overpayment and says, if anyone in National had approached him about it, he would have told them not to do it.

The Media Freedom Committee represents the country’s major news and current affairs organisations including Fairfax/Stuff, NZME, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, TVNZ, MediaWorks and RNZ.

Well, you know the old adage about how you tell a politician is lying…their lips are moving.

The Media Freedom Committee is being trite and self-serving. The journalists pushed once too often and they pushed against a person who has the means, ability and will to get to the bottom of it. Tim Murphy likes to play fast and loose, this is his first real smacking without a large corporate law firm backing him up or a large corporate bank balance he can spend on litigation. Welcome to my world…it isn’t much fun.

 

-NZ Herald

 


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