Key Points:

A senior sports journalist who told his editor to leave "his f..... copy alone" was dismissed fairly, the Employment Relations Authority has found.

John Coffey, one of New Zealand's most respected rugby league journalists, was sacked from The Press newspaper in Christchurch after yelling at his sports editor, Coen Lammers.

On March 9 this year, Mr Lammers edited a cricket story of Mr Coffey's and added words to it.

The story had said, "New Zealand's youngest in a decade" and was changed to "New Zealand's youngest in half a century".

Mr Coffey was "outraged" at this and said if the story had gone to print it would have made him look "stupid".

Mr Lammers told the authority that Mr Coffey had told him to leave "his f...... copy alone" and that he "always f..... it up".

Mr Lammers said he had been shaken and upset by the outburst.

Mr Coffey had a disciplinary meeting on March 22 and was told later that day that his employment was to be terminated.

At the disciplinary meeting, the union acting for Mr Coffey, New Zealand Amalgamated Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union said Mr Coffey had worked for the paper for 44 years and had come from the "original school of hard knocks".

He said he had not directed the phrase at Mr Lammers personally.

Mr Coffey said he had been unfairly dismissed from the paper and was seeking $10,000 in compensation and lost remuneration.

The authority said Mr Coffey had received other warnings before about his behaviour.

It said the newspaper had been a fair and reasonable employer.

The authority has reserved the issue of costs.

Mr Coffey wrote a book earlier this year with Bernie Wood called The Kiwis: 100 Years of International Rugby League.