Key Points:

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws was cleared yesterday by the Broadcasting Standards Authority when it rejected complaints about remarks he made in his capacity as a radio talkback host, describing the late King of Tonga as a "fat brown slug".

John Anderson, of Auckland, had complained that Laws had breached broadcasting standards in his descriptions of the late Tongan King on his Radio Live show on September 12.

The authority also found that Laws had neither insulted nor criticised the people of Tonga with his comments.

Laws said the judgment upheld his right to express controversial opinions in his capacity as a talkback host.

He was pleased that "the over-sensitivity of the politically correct has been seen for what it is.

"Sadly, the Tongan comments have proven to be wholly accurate, and there is now even blood on the hands of that royal bloat-ocracy."

Laws, a former MP, was criticised for his refusal to honour King Tupou IV, who died in Auckland.

Besides his remarks on Radio Live, he said he would not lower the New Zealand flag in Wanganui to honour the King.

Mr Anderson had complained that the remarks breached Principles 1, 7 and guideline 7a of the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice.

Principle 1 relates to good taste and decency but the authority was of the view that Laws' remarks were provocative and clearly calculated to offend.

But when taking into account contextual factors, which included the robust nature of talkback and the adult target audience, the authority considered the remarks did not breach the good taste and decency standard.

Principle 7 relates to social responsibility and guideline 7a denigration.

Guideline 7a applied only to broadcasts which encouraged denigration of a "section of the community".

"In the authority's view, the host's comments were clearly directed at the late King of Tonga as an individual," the finding said.

"He did not make any statements about Tongan people ... Accordingly, the authority ... declines to uphold the Principle 7 complaint."

- NZPA