Judge says no court photos

A judge has declined media requests to take photos of a Queenstown police officer defending an offensive language charge.

Constable Jenny McNee was charged after a complaint by a Queenstown taxi driver following an early-morning incident in November last year and a defended hearing is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Queenstown District Court.

The Otago Daily Times and other media made special applications to visually cover McNee's hearing but Judge Tony Couch directed that: ''Applications by media organisations to have video and still cameras in court are declined.''

He did not give his reasons for the ruling.

Earlier in the week Const McNee's lawyer, Nic Soper, sent the Otago Daily Times his objections to the in-court coverage application.

He said the charge she faces, of using insulting language, is minor and carries a maximum penalty of a fine not exceeding $1000.

''The media's interest appears to be as a consequence of Mrs McNee being a sworn police officer.

''The alleged offence, however, occurred whilst Mrs McNee was on voluntary medical leave and so, accordingly, there is no suggestion of her having potentially offended during the execution of her duties as a police officer.

''There is no overriding public interest in this proceeding that would warrant the media coverage requested.''

Const McNee's alleged altercation with the taxi driver made newspaper headlines across the country and footage of the incident was aired by a television network in March.

david.williams@odt.co.nz