Right to Life Complaint to Press Council over Libellous Sunday Star Times article

The Secretary,

Press Council,

Wellington.

Dear Mrs Major,

Complaint – Sunday Star Times

I wish to lay a complaint against a statement made in an article written by Marika Hill, titled “Family Planning Association’s charity status comes under fire.” This article was published in the Sunday Star Times edition of January 27 in news A5. The article states:

“Anti-abortionists are taking aim at the charity status of the Family Planning Association in their latest assault against women and pro-choice organisations.”

This statement is false, slanderous and libellous. Our complaint is that this statement breached the Press Council’s Statement of Principles number one, Accuracy, Fairness and Balance. Publications should be bound at all times by accuracy, fairness and balance and should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers by commission or omission.

Our Society laid a complaint with the Editor of the Sunday Star Times on 27th January 2013. A response was received from the Deputy Editor, Michael Donaldson on 7th February. Our Society does not accept the response of the Sunday Star Times. In response to his letter we accept that that there was no intention to suggest that literally women were being assaulted. The statement that is the subject of this complaint is a very serious one for the following reasons:

  • The Sunday Star Times have provided no evidence to substantiate the article’s false claim that our Society is assaulting women now or in the past.
  • The circulation of the Sunday Star Times is 554,000 therefore the slander and libel of this statement is considerable with the potential loss of support both financial and personal from the community.
  • Our Society is pro-woman, pro-life and pro-family. Itt is dedicated to protecting women and their unborn from the violence of abortion. The majority of our members are women. We are not engaged in assaulting women.
  • The statement makes the claim that this is the current assault on women inferring that there have been other assaults on women.
  • The statement clearly includes all women in New Zealand.
  • The statement infers that our Society in making a complaint to the Charities Commission against the Family Planning Association for breaching the conditions of the Charities Act is assaulting women. It is the duty of any individual or organisation that believes that a registered charity is breaching the law, to use the process of complaint provided by the Internal Affairs Department.
  • The statement made in the SST, is libellous and is a matter covered by the Defamation Act 1992.
  • The statement slanders the good name of not only Right to Life, but every organisation that is a member of the pro-life movement in New Zealand.
  • It brings into disrepute the aims and objects of Right to Life, to uphold the right to life of every person from conception to natural death.

Our Society has the objective to seek respect and legal protection for the inalienable right to life of every person from conception to natural death, including unborn children who are the weakest and most defenceless members of the human family.

It is disappointing that such a statement would be made by a senior journalist in the premier weekend newspaper in New Zealand; a newspaper that has a reputation for maintaining high ethics in its journalism.

In conclusion, I request that in the interest of truth and justice your Council upholds our complaint

Yours sincerely

Ken Orr

Secretary

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