Authority rules 'Beast' label OK

Monday 4 Feb 2013 2:21 p.m.

Wilson, 65, attracted enormous media attention last year when he was released to live in a house on Whanganui Prison grounds

Wilson, 65, attracted enormous media attention last year when he was released to live in a house on Whanganui Prison grounds

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It is OK to refer to convicted sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson as "the Beast of Blenheim" nearly 20 years after the last of his crimes, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) says.

Wilson, 65, attracted enormous media attention last year when he was released to live in a house on Whanganui Prison grounds, with many outlets referring to him by the term coined around the time of his court case in the 1990s.

Wilson was jailed in 1996 for sex crimes against women, children and animals over 25 years in Blenheim.

A complainant to the BSA, referring to items broadcast by 3 News and Nightline, argued Wilson was treated unfairly because the label "dehumanised and stigmatised him and was a deliberate attempt to incite public hostility and animosity against him and other prisoners".

In its findings, released today, the BSA said that the label "beast of Blenheim" or "the beast", used for many years, had become a well-known nickname reflecting the public's reaction to the nature of his crimes.

The complainant was also concerned that the items showed disregard for Wilson's human rights and he alleged TV3 was grooming the public against Wilson "in collaboration with other broadcasters who hold to the same practices and ideology of separatism, hatred and contemptuous superiority".

However, the BSA disagreed.

It said part of the complaint appeared to be directed primarily at the justice system rather than at the broadcast itself.

The BSA also declined to uphold complaints the items breached standards of good taste, decency, privacy, controversial issues, accuracy, discrimination and denigration, responsible programming and children's interests.

NZN

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