New Zealand: Investigative Magazine Editor Takes on Press Council Findings that “Refute” Report of Secret Flights of US Troops to Iraq

'Investigate' to appeal Air NZ troop story ruling
April 30, 2008
By Edward Gay
www.presscouncil.org.nz

Investigate magazine editor Ian Wishart is refuting the Press Council's findings about aspects of a story alleging Air NZ was secretly flying foreign troops to war.

The council ruled the September 2006 article lacked fairness, the cover headline and some details were inaccurate, and the cover montage of an armed soldier, a queue of people and the koru on the tail of an Air New Zealand jet was misleading and inaccurate.

But the matter has not ended there, as Wishart has found new information for review.

"We have documentary evidence that Air New Zealand mislead the Press Council," Mr Wishart said today.

He said his understanding was that the case was being re-visited on Monday because he had further evidence that the Air New Zealand flights to Kuwait were indeed secret.

Mr Wishart said he now has emails between Air New Zealand and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which are slugged "confidential".

He said he plans to submit these emails to the Press Council on Monday.

Mr Wishart also contests the Press Council's view on the jet planes accompanying the Air New Zealand flight.

The Press Council upheld a complaint of inaccuracy relating to claims of a fighter jet escort, the level of secrecy surrounding the flights, and that staff had been sworn to secrecy.

He said two separate sources have spoken of jet planes accompanying the flight and Air New Zealand provided no evidence to the contrary.

"I was prepared to accept that the fighter jets might have been coincidental but there was no evidence that there were none," Mr Wishart said.

He said the magazine's cover montage of a US marine and an Air New Zealand plane in the background was not misleading because the airline did carry allied troops to Kuwait and photos exist of troops travelling on civilian airlines.

"Investigate has already acknowledged that our coverline: Flying US troops up to the War Zone was a mistake. It did that within a month or two of the article, so there's nothing new in that respect," Mr Wishart said.

Press Council secretary Mary Major said Mr Wishart's new evidence will be considered on Monday.

She said if the new evidence warrants a revisiting of the case then the finding will be reviewed at the next Press Council meeting in June.

View the decision in whole:

http://www.presscouncil.org.nz/display_ruling.asp?casenumber=2023

- with NZPA