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Payout over Ben Stokes mum radio call

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/11/2016
Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath © Facebook/Radio Hauraki Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath

Radio Hauraki's breakfast show has been criticised and hit with a $8000 bill over broadcasting what was meant to be an off-air conversation with English cricketer Ben Stokes' mum.

Hauraki Breakfast Show hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath were suspended in April after Deborah Stokes called the station to complain the pair had insulted her New Zealand-born son while criticising his performance at the T20 World Cup final.

During the call, Mr Heath assured Ms Stokes she was off air, but then broadcast the conversation live - with the story of Mr Stokes' mum defending her son making international headlines.

Ben Stokes his out during day one of the second Test in Cape Town. © Julian Finney/Getty Images Ben Stokes his out during day one of the second Test in Cape Town.

In a decision released on Tuesday, the Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld Ms Stokes' complaint, calling the prank a case of "public deception", saying it "demonstrated a grave lack of understanding on the hosts' behalf of an individual's fundamental rights to privacy and fair treatment".

The watchdog ordered NZME radio to pay Ms Stokes $4000 in compensation and another $4000 in costs to the Crown. It must also broadcast a statement summarising the authority's decision.

It said the hosts' behaviour after the broadcast also aggregated the breach of standards, showed a lack of remorse and appeared to ridicule Ms Stokes.

Mr Wells and Mr Heath afterwards posted a photo of themselves drinking at an airport lounge with the caption: "Feeling remorseful for what we done. On route to Vegas for that important business trip."

The BSA said NZME had offered to give Ms Stokes $6000 or donate the money to a charity of her choice, but that she declined this.

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