Cr Lee Vandervis
Police have decided not to pursue a complaint against the
Otago Daily Times
made by Dunedin city councillor Lee
Cr Vandervis complained to police in December about the
publication, just before the local body elections, of an
article rating councillors' performance during the last
He believed the article breached the Local Electoral Act by
attempting to interfere with or influence voters in the
process of voting in the elections.
Relieving Dunedin, Waitaki and Clutha area commander
Inspector Mel Aitken said in a statement yesterday police had
decided not to pursue the matter.
''Police have investigated the complaint and sought a legal
opinion. As a result of the legal opinion, police will not
[be] pursuing the matter any further,'' she said.
Cr Vandervis yesterday said he was not surprised at the
decision and was considering taking a private prosecution.
''We anticipated police inability to recognise what the
Electoral Act is about. They failed in the case of [MP John]
Banks ... and I believe they have failed in recognising the
clear leading of the electorate by the ODT councillor
One of his biggest complaints was over the timing of the
article, which was published as voters were receiving their
''If the ODT had decided to do this a month prior to
people getting the election papers, not a problem.''
University of Otago public law specialist Prof Andrew Geddis
said there was never a chance of the complaint being
''Simply providing information about candidates and your
considered opinion as to their behaviour or performance -
there is just no way on earth that is going to be considered
If Cr Vandervis did take a private prosecution it would be
thrown out of court at the first hurdle.
ODT editor Murray Kirkness said he was not surprised
by the decision, adding the media played a vital role in the
''Scrutinising the performance of elected officials and
publishing opinions of all kinds are fundamental roles of the
media,'' he said.