Paper warned over harassing Bain juror

A newspaper has been told by the Ministry of Justice it does not have the right to "harass or intimidate" a juror in the retrial of David Bain.

But The Press newspaper denies there was harassment or intimidation, saying it approached the juror only on matters of significant public interest.

The Ministry of Justice wrote to Christchurch newspaper in August last year after receiving a complaint from the juror who sat on the jury that acquitted David Bain of the murder of his parents and three siblings.

The Bain case has been the focus of fresh public debate this week after a controversial television documentary.

Andrew Hampton, the ministry's general manager of higher courts, told The Press in his letter that the juror complained of being called on an unlisted number by one of its reporters, Martin van Beynen.

"I would remind you that in questioning a juror about their experience, Mr van Beynan (sic) may be in breach of the law, depending on the line of his questioning," Mr Hampton said.

"The juror suggests that Mr van Beyen (sic) told (deleted) that (deleted) had no choice but to answer his questions.

"The juror has stated that Mr van Beynen's phone manner was abrasive and confrontational.

"If this is the case, it is unacceptable for Mr van Beyen (sic) to have spoken to the juror in such a manner."

The juror had also advised that a second, unnamed journalist from The Press visited her at her home and attempted to question her on matters "associated with the trial".

Mr Hampton said he considered the unnamed journalist's conduct to be inappropriate.

Editor of The Press, Andrew Holden, accepted the juror found the two direct approaches unwelcome. However the newspaper had taken this unusual step because of matters of "significant public interest".

- NZ Herald

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