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An unprivileged position II

By Steven | September 16, 2010

Tom Frewen [and Graeme Edgeler] noted that last year the Privileges Committee looked at the issue of the scope of the media’s privilege to report on proceedings in the House, and also concluded that it was much less than the media tend to think it is: 

The media play an important role in providing the public with information about thebusiness of the House. In recognition of this role, some protections are provided in the Defamation Act to allow fair and accurate reports or summaries of the proceedings of the House to be covered by qualified privilege. The defence of qualified privilege applies to

• delayed broadcasts of proceedings

• the publication of a fair and accurate report of proceedings

• the publication of a fair and accurate extract or summary of a report of proceedings.

The evidence from the Media Freedom Committee of the Commonwealth Press Union (New Zealand Section) suggested that the media incorrectly believed that it had protection from actions such as contempt of court or breach of statutory no-publication provisions when it reported anything said in the House, provided the report was fair and accurate. This is not the current legal position. We consider that qualified privilege could be extended to cover fair and accurate reports of all proceedings, by analogy with qualified privilege under the law of defamation.


We recommend to the Government that it introduce legislation to amend the Legislature Act 1908 to provide that a fair and accurate report of proceedings in the House, or summary using extracts of proceedings in the House, by any person is protected by qualified privilege.

Topics: Contempt of Court, Parliamentary privilege, Suppression orders | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “An unprivileged position II”

  1. Graeme Edgeler Says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Me too! It was the first comment on your other post 🙂

  2. Steven Says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    And indeed, you were first. Didn’t see the link there. Sorry, full credit to you. I’ve added you in now.


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