In a move believed to be without precedent, Speaker Lockwood Smith has imposed a 10-day ban on the New Zealand Herald from covering politics from its press gallery office within the parliamentary complex.

The Speaker handed down the punishment - to apply from next Monday - after the Herald published a photograph on its website on Wednesday of guards and members of the public restraining a man who was trying to jump from the public gallery into the debating chamber.

The suspension of the Herald's accreditation bars the paper's journalists from the complex, including ministers' offices in the Beehive.

Dr Smith said the photograph was a breach of Standing Orders which prohibit any filming of protests and other disruptions in the public gallery.


Herald editor Tim Murphy said the Speaker's decision was so disproportionate it was outrageous.

"He is attempting to shut down the Herald's coverage of politics six weeks from the general election for publishing a genuine news picture, a picture that had no negative consequences for Parliament or its members."

In a letter to the Herald, the Speaker said: "The breach is of a nature that cannot go unsanctioned if the openness of our parliamentary system is to be preserved."

He understood the Herald's argument that it was considered a public interest and security issue, rather than a protest. However, he did not believe it justified the publication of the picture.

Mr Murphy said the incident, which was captured by Herald political editor Audrey Young on her mobile phone, was an exceptional event that had posed a clear danger to MPs.

He said the public had a right to know just how close things had come to serious injury in the House, including Labour MPs sitting below where the man was trying to jump from.

"The photo ran with a report on and showed the efforts of members of the public to avert injuries all round."

It did not identify anyone, did not promote any protest message and did not risk bringing Parliament or its members into disrepute.

"Worse, the National Party Speaker said yesterday that he acted after complaints from competitors in the media who had not been in the chamber at the time - presumably those who would not want to show the public the level of danger MPs might have been in.

"If this extreme decision stands, we will obviously work from outside Parliament to continue to let readers know what is going on inside it."

In June last year, the Speaker suspended 22 Parliament car-parking permits held by TV One and TV3 after their crews pursued former MP Chris Carter down stairwells in the complex and filmed in his secretary's office in his absence.

However, the accreditation of their journalists and camera operators to work in Parliament was not affected.

At the time, Dr Smith said they were serious breaches of the rules, including filming in a prohibited area and entering an MP's office area without permission.

Jane Patterson, chairwoman of the press gallery, said she was surprised the Speaker had decided to suspend the accreditation of all of the Herald office, rather than only the person who took the photo.

"While I understand why the Speaker felt the need to act in response to a breach of the rules, I do think the sanction is severe."