The Australian Press Council
- Adjudication Number 1449
THE Press Council has dismissed a complaint about coverage of vandalism attacks on the home of the chairman of Gunns, John Gay.
The first was published in The Sunday Examiner, Launceston, on October 11, in a page one story headed "Gay's home smoke-bombed", and the second an opinion piece by the former premier, Paul Lennon, headed "Pulp mill protesters' tactics are despicable", in The Examiner two days later.
Russell Langfield complained that the coverage implied a direct link between the vandalism and a protest against the controversial pulp mill the previous weekend.
The Press Council finds that the page one news article did no more than report the facts of the police investigation, and that one of the acts of vandalism had occurred the same weekend as the protest.
The fact that police later concluded that the alleged smoke bomb was a prank, which the newspaper subsequently reported, does not detract from the newsworthiness of the original report.
The article did not say protesters had perpetrated the attacks.
The opinion piece by Mr Lennon was forcefully worded and certainly suggested that the incidents at Mr Gay's house were orchestrated by anti-mill campaigners.
However, it was one of a number of stories published about the issue, which covered a broad spectrum of opinion about the proposed pulp mill, including condemnation of the attacks by opponents of the pulp mill.