Fined for breaching coroner's order

Last updated 18:36 26/03/2014

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Fairfax Media has been fined after breaching a coroner's suppression order.

Judge David Ruth fined Fairfax Media $2250 plus court costs of $130 when a representative appeared in the Hamilton District Court today.

The prosecution came after the Waikato Times published the name of a lead maternity carer (LMC) involved in the pregnancy of Casey Missy Turama Nathan, 20, who died after giving birth to her son, Kymani, on May 21, 2012. Kymani died two days later.

The deaths of the baby and mother were recently the subject of an eight-day inquest from which a decision has been reserved.

The court heard the LMC was granted an interim name suppression order by coroner Gordon Matenga after the New Zealand College of Midwives, in July 2012, became aware that Maori Television was doing a documentary on the deaths and planned to name the LMC.

Two months after the order was granted, the college's lawyer emailed the Times a copy of the suppression order.

However, eight months later, in April 2013, a Times journalist became aware of information regarding the midwife and began writing a story.

A decision was eventually made by Waikato Times editor Jonathan MacKenzie and his senior team to print the midwife's name and other identifying details.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Robertson said both Fairfax Media and the editor of the Waikato Times had to be made accountable for their actions.

Robert Stewart, lawyer for Fairfax and the editor, said the publishing was an "inadvertent oversight" and that all involved had simply forgotten the suppression order existed.

Judge Ruth accepted Stewart's submission and noted that the Times had since taken steps to ensure the chances of inadvertently breaching a suppression order again were reduced.

Judge Ruth said the level of culpability for Fairfax "fell at the level of inadvertence perhaps merging into some negligence" and that it was not an intentional breach.

MacKenzie was also charged with breaching the same suppression order, but was granted a discharge without conviction and ordered to pay $500 to the LMC for the emotional harm the breach had caused.

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- Waikato Times

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