By MATHEW DEARNALEY
TV3 says it is considering what it can do to help a police whistleblower who faces possible dismissal after her identity was allegedly blown by an award-winning journalist.
News head Mark Jennings said yesterday the channel may help with legal costs if the woman is dismissed this week. He was keen to apologise to her for her predicament.
The woman, who is on several rostered days off from her civilian job at the police northern communications centre, faces disciplinary action over a leaked log of the 111 distress call made from Piha by missing Auckland university student and part-time model Iraena Asher.
Mr Jennings said reporter Hannah Hodson, who resigned last week to work for Television New Zealand, broke a fundamental journalistic rule by handing back to the police a document from which the whistleblower was able to be identified from a fax number on it.
"The principle is you never do anything to compromise your source, so whistleblowers or people who come to us with information should expect to be totally protected," he said.
"People put their jobs - even their lives - on the line at times, and they must be given total protection."
The information was initially received by another reporter but given by Hodson to police media spokesman Jayson Rhodes, who worked for TV3 until about a year ago.
Hodson, who is not returning the Herald's calls, was hired by TVNZ within hours of being told by Mr Jennings on Thursday her position at TV3 had become untenable.
She is due to start work today for the nightly current affairs programme Up Close at 7 after TVNZ news head Bill Ralston decided she deserved a second chance.
"We all can make mistakes, we all are fallible, I'd hate to think a brilliant journalistic career could end because of one fundamental basic mistake," Mr Ralston said yesterday.
"I think she's learned her lesson the hard way and I'm sorry for the source, but it was not a mistake made at TVNZ, it was made at 3."
He was satisfied TV3's source was compromised through an "oversight" rather than malicious intent.
Mr Jennings said Mr Rhodes had contacted several other TV3 staff to find the source of the leak and been told to "rack off".