A number of blogs today picked up a post by Cactus Kate, purporting to show that APN, which owns nzherald.co.nz, has cut its legal budgets so has told editors not to run stories that might be legally risky.

Tim Murphy, the editor of the New Zealand Herald, filed this response:

Hello

Your piece today on APN has been flicked onto me by someone on staff who is as puzzled as I am by its claims

I'm editor of the NZ Herald and can tell you that:

a) there is no truth whatsoever to the claim that our editorial legal budget has been restricted or that we need to alter our approach to legal challenges or threats over Herald stories. No cut. No change. and

b) the rest is a heavily truncated mish-mash of unremarkable legal discussion points (a to g) in a 66-page media law training paper put together by our lawyers, Bell Gully, and provided to 80 or so participants from throughout APN. Nothing secret about them and nothing new.

They are not publisher instructions or editor directives; they are not new (same general thoughts have been included in the training document for years) and in the context of training staff, and shorn of your views on each point, the basic points are entirely matter-of-fact for anyone seeking to get things right and avoid legal pitfalls the media have encountered before.

There is no new 'conservative' approach, no recent guidelines discussed, received or implemented, no change. No orders from on-high. No end to investigations or to keeping newsmakers honest or to speaking truth to power. Put simply, no story.

Appreciate if you could let this be known to your readers.

Regards,

Tim Murphy

Editor

The New Zealand Herald