Lawyers for former Cape Times editor, Alide Dasnois, have struck back at Independent Media by lodging a complaint with the Press Ombudsman over coverage in that newspaper over the settlement between Dasnois and Independent Media.
“The code for members of the Press Council provides that allowing commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence or slant reporting constitutes serious misconduct on the part of a news group and our client will be lodging a complaint with the Press Ombudsman,” said Cheadle Thompson and Haysom’s Jason Whyte in a statement.
Dasnois and Independent Media settled the case out of court just before proceedings were due to start in the Labour Court. The Cape Times ran a story claiming it had been “vindicated” by the settlement. The newspaper group also issued a controversial statement in which it again reiterated issues supposed to have been settled and accused Dasnois of being driven by money rather than the principle of editorial freedom. Dasnois told The Media Online in a story published yesterday she was considering legal action.
Lutfia Vayej, group executive of marketing and communication for Independent Media told The Media Online the Cape Times “has not yet received a notification from the Press Ombudsman’s office regarding the complaint you refer to”.
She refused to answer further questions on the statement. “For the rest of your query: Independent Media does not deem it necessary to respond to any questions related to our statement of 9 May,” she said.
Whyte said Dasnois had sought compensation because of false allegations of racism and disrespect for Mandela which had been made by her employer. He said this was the context in which Independent had agreed to say in public that Dasnois’ decision to run a wraparound cover instead of changing the newspaper’s front page to honour Mandela’s death was not racist nor intended to show disrespect for Mandela and his legacy. Independent also retracted all allegations of racism against Dasnois.
“The agreement to this bears Dr Surve’s signature. After agreeing to say this in the face of an imminent court hearing INMSA unfortunately almost immediately proceeded to publish an article which sought to reassert that her conduct was ‘an affront to the dignity and legacy of South Africa’s founder [Mandela]..’ and that as an editor she was guilty of racism (not a senior African reporter or sub-editor),” he said.
Whyte said these claims “went to the heart of Dasnois’ reason for filing a dispute”, to “seek satisfaction over these hurtful and offensive claims”.
“It then turned around and repeated these insults in a very prominent and public fashion in the very newspaper about which the case had been concerned – as if what had just been said by them in a court process had never taken place. The lack of respect for court process is manifest,” Whyte said.
The Cape Times has had several complaints against it lodged with the Press Ombudsman over the past year.
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