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Complainant Name:
Mr Jason Collie

Clauses Noted: 16

Publication: Sunday Sport

Complaint:

Mr Jason Collie, of Auckland, New Zealand, complained that the Sunday Sport had paid an associate of a criminal for an article published on 7 November 1999 headlined "3-inch failure in bed!" in breach of Clause 16 (Payment for articles) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

The article was based on an interview with the former girlfriend of a man convicted of murdering the complainant's aunt. It contained explicit details of the couple's sex life.

The complainant said that the woman was paid 500 for the article and that there was no public interest defence to justify this payment under the Code. The newspaper said that the payment was a reimbursement to cover the woman's expenses and for loss of earnings while she was available to the newspaper's staff. The editor did not consider that this constituted payment for a story. The complainant dismissed the editor's argument, saying that the woman was unemployed and therefore had no earnings to lose.

Decision:
Upheld

Adjudication:

It was clear to the Commission that the payment fell within the terms of the Code. The Code of Practice requires that payment - no matter what it is to be spent on - must not be made to associates of criminals unless the material ought to be published in the public interest and payment is necessary for this to be done. The woman was an associate of a murderer and only received the money as a direct result of her link to the perpetrator of the crime. The article added no new information that could be considered to be in the public interest and the editor had not indicated why the payment was necessary. The Commission sympathised with the complainant whose grief at the loss of his aunt must have been exacerbated by this clear breach of the Code.

Report:
51



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