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Complaint over 'England' dismissed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/05/2017
Paul Henry hosting  his morning show. © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Paul Henry hosting his morning show.

A television viewer who objected to presenter Paul Henry's inaccurate use of the word "England" during an interview has had an appeal dismissed in the High Court at Wellington.

Archibald Lowes made a complaint to MediaWorks after Mr Henry, during an interview with then-United States ambassador to New Zealand, Mark Gilbert, on July 4 last year, referred to the USA having claimed independence "from England" in 1776.

Later in the interview Mr Henry said Margaret Thatcher was the former "prime minister of England".

Both comments were inaccurate - the USA gained independence from Great Britain and Mrs Thatcher was the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Mr Lowes' complaint was on the grounds of accuracy, discrimination and denigration.

The MediaWorks standards committee accepted the inaccuracies were made but were genuine and immaterial in the context of the interview and the Broadcasting Standards Authority declined to uphold Mr Lowes' complaint.

He appealed to the High Court but, in the judgement issued on Tuesday, his claims were again dismissed as not being discriminatory or meant to denigrate.

Despite his assertion that the BSA was "plainly wrong" in its decision and did not take the UK's "constitutional status" into consideration, MediaWorks' lawyer said the interview was light-hearted and irreverent and "there was no real depth or detail" to it.

MediaWorks were told they could not recover costs from Mr Lowe and the judgement said it was worth noting that MediaWorks had issued new guidance to its journalists on how to refer to England, Great Britain and the UK.

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