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Golden and Television New Zealand Ltd - ID2018-035 (23 July 2018)

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga
  • Paula Rose
  • Wendy Palmer

Complainant

  • Allan Golden

Dated

23rd July 2018

Number

2018-035

Programme

1 News

Channel/Station

TVNZ 1

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd

Summary

[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

An item on 1 News reported on the trial of Colin Mitchell, who was found guilty of the kidnapping and sexually motivated attack of a young woman. During the item, the reporter stated: ‘DNA evidence from [Mr Mitchell’s] toothbrush matched that found on and inside the pair of gloves left at the quarry; 800,000 million times more likely to have come from Mitchell than anyone else’ [our emphasis]. The Authority declined to determine a complaint that the reporter’s statement was inaccurate because it did not take into account the possibility that Mr Mitchell had an identical twin, or that DNA evidence could have been falsified or planted. The Authority found the complaint was frivolous and trivial.

Declined to Determine: Accuracy

The item

[1]  An item on 1 News reported on the trial of Colin Mitchell, who was found guilty of the kidnapping and sexually motivated attack of a young woman. During the item, the reporter stated: ‘DNA evidence from [Mr Mitchell’s] toothbrush matched that found on and inside the pair of gloves left at the quarry; 800,000 million times more likely to have come from Mitchell than anyone else’ [our emphasis]. The item was broadcast on 1 March 2018 on TVNZ 1.

The complaint

[2]  Allan Golden complained that the reporter’s statement was inaccurate, as it did not take into account the possibility that Mr Mitchell may have an identical twin, or that DNA evidence could have been falsified or planted.

[3]  TVNZ responded that the reporter’s figure came from scientific evidence, given by a forensic scientist from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR). Mr Golden’s submission about evidence being planted or falsified had ‘no basis in the facts presented in Court of the defence as presented by Mr Mitchell’s legal representatives’. Mr Mitchell explained in court that his DNA was in the glove because he had tried on the exact same sort of glove at The Warehouse.

[4]  In considering this complaint, we have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

Outcome: Declined to Determine

[5]  Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises this Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or trivial. The policy behind section 11 is that the time and resources of the Authority, which are, in the end, sustained by broadcasters and by the people of New Zealand, should not be wasted in having to deal with matters which objectively have no importance.1

[6]  This was an accurate report of Mr Mitchell’s trial. Mr Golden has raised fanciful and absurd reasons why evidence found to be incriminating may not be. None of this bears on the accuracy of the report of the trial.

[7]  We therefore consider that Mr Golden’s complaint is frivolous and trivial and we decline to determine it under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Peter Radich
Chair
23 July 2018  

Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Allan Golden’s formal complaint – 2 March 2018
2 TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 4 April 2018
3 Mr Golden’s referral to the Authority – 7 April 2018
4 TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 24 April 2018


 1 Guidance: BSA power to decline to determine a complaint, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, pages 63-64