The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has upheld four complaints about comments made by broadcaster Mike Hosking about the waitress at the centre of the "Ponytailgate" scandal.

In April, a waitress wrote in a blog post that Prime Minister John Key had repeatedly pulled her ponytail during visits to the cafe where she worked.

During a segment that aired at the end of TV One's Seven Sharp on April 23, Hosking said the waitress' motivations for speaking out were "selfish" and "a puffed up self-involved pile of political bollocks".

He also claimed the owners of the cafe were the victims of the incident.


The authority upheld the complaints, ruling that Hosking's comments were unfair to the waitress adding that due to the nature of his 'Final Word' segment, there was no opportunity for her to respond or defend herself.

While public figures were expected to be the subject of media scrutiny, the BSA concluded the waitress was not a public figure in the usual sense, despite the publicity her accusations received.

"In reaching these findings we do not mean to say anything about the rights or wrongs of the ponytail incident.

"[A] person who is not a public figure should be able to speak up and make assertions whether they are right or wrong without being treated unfairly and in an intimidatory way by a television presenter speaking from the platform of a powerful broadcaster", the authority said.

The authority concluded the publication of the decision was sufficient to mark the breach and no order was made.