Tamihere is seeking damages of over $620,000. Photo / David
RadioLive presenters were told to stay away from public
places and not to attend their children's sporting events or do
their own shopping as the station's management sought to shut
down the media storm around John Tamihere and Willie Jackson's
questioning of a female talkback caller during the Roast
The instructions from MediaWorks group communications manager
Rachel Lorimer to Tamihere, Jackson and fellow hosts Karyn
Hay and Andrew Fagan are contained in an email in a sworn
affidavit filed by Tamihere as part of a lawsuit that alleges
breach of contract and defamation over his exit from the
The controversy was sparked by an interview
Jackson and Tamihere conducted with a caller called "Amy",
who said she went to school with alleged victims of the Roast
Busters. Comments made during the interview led to a social
media campaign aimed at RadioLive sponsors.
Tamihere is seeking damages of over $620,000 in a suit filed
with the High Court on December 23 last year.
The Herald has obtained a copy of Tamihere's statement of
claim and sworn affidavit.
Tamihere claims MediaWorks had agreed to renew his
$10,000-a-month contract for 2014 and he is suing for the
full amount after the contract was not renewed following the
Tamihere alleges MediaWorks intentionally damaged his
reputation. The company failed to follow an agreed strategy
to manage the publicity around his departure from his
talkback show, instead announcing via a tweet linked to a
story on its website that Alison Mau would replace him as
Jackson's co-host in 2014.
Tamihere alleges MediaWorks also failed to publish the
findings of an internal complaints review process that found
Jackson and Tamihere's interview with "Amy" had not breached
any broadcasting standards.
Tamihere claims the effect was to allow the public to think
Tamihere had been fired for misconduct over his role in the
interview but that Jackson had done nothing wrong. Tamihere's
defamation claim is for $500,000 in damages plus costs.
A MediaWorks spokeswoman said the company opted not to renew
Tamihere's contract at the end of 2013, as was its right.
"Our position is that his allegations have no substance," she
said. "We will file our defence to the proceeding in due
An email chain in Tamihere's affidavit reveals that
MediaWorks went into "damage control mode" after advertisers
reacted to a social media backlash following the Amy
interview by pulling their advertising from the station.
"I need your full support to ensure we don't provide further
oxygen to this story", MediaWorks' general manager for talk
brands Jana Rangooni wrote in an email dated November 8.
Her directive "not to discuss the Roast Busters story" did
not meet with universal approval. Hay, who co-hosts the
7pm-10pm weeknight show with Fagan, replied that not talking
about Roast Busters "will make us look like we have obviously
been gagged". She suggested avoiding talking about the story
would "make it bigger than just fronting it out sensibly".
"I can assure you fronting it out sensibly is not working",
Mrs Rangooni replied.
As well as being directed not to discuss Roast Busters,
RadioLive's presenters were instructed not to discuss the
fact that they had been banned from talking about Roast
"I do not want this editorial directive discussed on air or
with anyone outside this email group as it in itself could be
another "angle" in the continued storm raging," Mrs
Rangooni's email stated.
Mrs Lorimer's email - forwarded by Mrs Rangooni - advising
presenters how to hide from the media was sent later that
"The last time I saw something like this it resulted in Paul
Henry's resignation from TVNZ, for no very good reason," it
Tamihere's lawyer, Mark Ryan, said he had a strong claim
"[MediaWorks] had an internal investigation which completely
cleared Mr Tamihere of any wrongdoing. That information
hasn't been made public."
How it unfolded
November 3: A TV3 investigation reveals a group of young men
are using Facebook to brag about their sexual exploits with
intoxicated, often underage girls.
November 5: Talkback hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere
interview a caller named Amy, who says she went to school
with the victims. Comments during the interview spark a
social media campaign, which protests against victim-blaming
and targets RadioLive sponsors.
November 6: Jackson and Tamihere apologise over the
November 11: Jackson and Tamihere stood down from the show
for the rest of the year. The pair again apologise over the
December 18: MediaWorks announce former Seven Sharp presenter
Alison Mau will co-host the 12pm-3pm show with Willie Jackson
December 20: Tamihere tells Radio Waatea he plans to sue