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Margaret Harkema welcomes TV3 defamation settlement and apology

By Steven | December 8, 2016

As some of you know, I act for Margaret Harkema, a dog and horse breeder in Hastings.

You may also have seen the apology broadcast by TV3 at about 7pm last night, and repeated tonight. If you missed it, you can catch it again tomorrow night, or see it on the Newshub’s website for the next week. Or you can read the text, which I’ve set out below.

The apology concerned a series of programmes broadcast about Margaret on Campbell Live in late 2011.

The apology is part of a settlement whose terms are confidential, but which involved payment of a sum of damages.

The settlement came in the wake of a Broadcasting Standards Authority decision, which contained scathing criticisms of Campbell Live’s reporting. You can read it on the BSA’s website at https://bsa.govt.nz/decisions/7635-harkema-and-tvworks-ltd-2012-042  It contains a detailed discussion of the background facts.

Ms Harkema says she is relieved her ordeal was over and her reputation vindicated. “Those programmes left me debilitated financially and mentally,” she said. “To this day I am shocked that a so-called reputable news organisation and its journalists could behave in such a reckless and irresponsible way.”

Ms Harkema said that she would prefer to make no further comment at this point. She asked that anyone who wanted to know anything more read the BSA’s decision, and if they had questions, contact me.

My contact details are: cellphone   022 026 0997, landline 476 8119, email steven.price@vuw.ac.nz

TV3’s apology

In 2011 Campbell Live broadcast a series of stories critical of Hastings horse and dog breeder Margaret Harkema and the Valley Animal Research Centre.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority found the programmes were inaccurate, unfair, “based on a pre-determined, narrow view of Ms Harkema and her practices,” were wrongfully edited to portray Ms Harkema as dishonest, and left out important information that was inconsistent with Campbell Live’s allegations. It found Campbell Live didn’t give Ms Harkema a fair chance to respond and “sensationalised or over-stated the situation by failing to distinguish guesswork from fact.”

The Broadcasting Standards Authority also condemned Campbell Live for secretly filming Ms Harkema in two highly offensive breaches of privacy.

TV3 accepts that Campbell Live’s allegations were wrong and unreservedly apologises to Ms Harkema for the damage caused to her reputation and the severe distress caused to her and her family.

Topics: General | 43 Comments »

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