BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Arnesen and Television New Zealand Ltd - 1997-100, 1997-101

  • A Martin
  • L M Loates
  • R McLeod
  • Murray Arnesen
60 Minutes
Standards Breached


The activities of a Tauranga Pastor were the subject of a 60 Minutes documentary

broadcast at 7.30pm on TV One on 29 September 1996, and again on 10 January

1997. A major part of the programme concentrated on the Pastor's alleged affair with

the Church organist.

Murray Arnesen, the Tauranga Pastor referred to, complained to the broadcaster,

Television New Zealand Limited, that the programme, first, breached his privacy and,

secondly, was inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced.

TVNZ in response advised that the matter was one in the public interest and that it

was satisfied, given the extensive documentation and research undertaken, that there

were no breaches of fairness nor any inaccuracies. It maintained that Mr Arnesen had

been given opportunities to comment upon allegations, and therefore the item was not

unbalanced. TVNZ did not consider Mr Arnesen's privacy was breached, given his

consent to be filmed. It declined to uphold the complaints.

Dissatisfied with the decisions, Mr Arnesen referred the complaints to the

Broadcasting Standards Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

He provided extensive information which he claimed had not been adequately

represented in the programme.

For the reasons given below, the Authority declines to uphold the privacy complaint,

but upholds an aspect of the standards complaint which alleges that parts of the

broadcast were unfair, and in breach of standard G4 of the Television Code of

Broadcasting Practice.


The members of the Authority have viewed the item complained about, have listened

to the tapes provided, and have read the lengthy correspondence (summarised in the

Appendix). In this instance, the Authority determines the complaints without a

formal hearing.

The Programme

A 60 Minutes item broadcast at 7.30pm on TV One on 29 September 1996, and again

on 10 January 1997, focused on the situation of a Tauranga Pastor, Murray Arnesen.

The second screening of the documentary was introduced by the presenter with the


When we first broadcast the story you're about to see in September, Pastor

Murray Arnesen was having a hard time. The elders in his Tauranga church

had all left, his takeaway business had burned down, Income Support was

trying to recover more than six thousand dollars from him, and he told the

police a death threat had been made on his life. But for the Pastor who started

out as a car salesman in Hawera, that was only the half of it; you see Mrs

Valerie Richardson, the widow who was once his organist, stuck to her claim

that she had an adulterous affair with Pastor Arnesen lasting more than five


The programme concentrated on Mr Arnesen's alleged affair with Mrs Valerie

Richardson. It opened with Mr Arnesen saying of Mrs Richardson: "With respect

she's old enough to be my mother." Shortly afterwards Mr Arnesen was pictured

holding the book he had written entitled "Growing Together in Love" which, the

reporter explained, was about marriage and fidelity.

In the item, Mrs Richardson explained that she had told Mr Arnesen's wife about the

alleged affair, and that Mr Arnesen then told everyone of her allegations, and had sued

her for defamation when she would not deny the claims. Mr Arnesen then denied the

allegation of adultery. The interviewer explained that when Mrs Richardson's lawyer

attempted to discover Mr Arnesen's 1994 personal diary, the defamation action was

stopped. The reporter asked: "Who do you believe? Here's something that may help

you make up your mind". Answerphone tape recordings were then played which

were alleged to be romantic messages from Mr Arnesen to Mrs Richardson. On

camera Mr Arnesen denied that some of the messages were to Mrs Richardson. They

were, he said, intended for his wife. Mrs Richardson was interviewed and explained

that Mr Arnesen had erased the originals of the tapes. When Mr Arnesen was then

interviewed outside his office, he said he had left legitimate messages on Mrs

Richardson's phone regarding work matters. He then alleged that Mrs Richardson had

removed documents and tapes from his office, and he told the interviewer to "take it

from there".

The programme went to Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia where, in the early

1980s, Mr Arnesen and his family had belonged to the Assembly of God church

before moving to the Christian Outreach church. There were claims, the reporter said,

that they had been asked to leave both churches. These claims were denied on camera

by Mr Arnesen who, when asked, stated that he had never been asked to leave any

church or been excommunicated. The programme referred to Mr Arnesen and his

family having then moved to Tauranga and the local Apostolic church which, it was

said, he left on bad terms because he had taken a "good fair chunk" of the congregation

with him. It was then reported that Mr Arnesen set up his own church which over

the last ten years had three different names, and had been in five different buildings. It

was said that Mr Arnesen became both Treasurer and Pastor of the current "Christian

Family Church".

Rod Collins, a Pastor in Tauranga, was interviewed and made the comment that Mr

Arnesen refused to listen to other members of the church. He then claimed that

several members of Mr Arnesen's church, besides Mrs Richardson, had needed special

counselling. Interviews were conducted on screen with two unidentified women in

which it was suggested, amongst other things, that Mr Arnesen had behaved in a

sexually compromising manner.

A former member of Mr Arnesen's church, Bob Groves, who, it was reported, left the

church in disgust, was interviewed and was asked whether Mr Arnesen was running a

"cult". Mr Groves talked of there being the "base rules for a cult". He was

particularly concerned about a set of rules called armourbearing which he did not

consider Christian. Mr Arnesen was interviewed on camera about armourbearing. He

explained his interpretation of events which had occurred. His comments were then

shown in contrast to statements made in his church services.

The interviewer made reference to the fact that there were now fewer members of Mr

Arnesen's church than in happier times. He advised that in February three elders had

left the church. Mr Arnesen on camera suggested that it was more appropriate to ask

the elders why they had left, rather than him. The elders refused to talk to the

reporter. However, Mark Flanagan, a former church member, advised that he had been

asked to look after the church finances while Mr Arnesen went away for a while. He

had been unhappy with the way the finances had been handled. He said that when

the elders tried to dismiss Mr Arnesen, it ended up with Mr Arnesen staying and the

elders leaving.

Mr Arnesen was interviewed and he said he had resigned as Pastor for a day and that

no-one took over from him. It was asked whether he used this as a ploy to go on the

benefit. He denied this. The interviewer then referred to the fact that Income Support

was chasing him for over $6,000, that a takeaway business Mr Arnesen bought in

partnership burnt down three weeks after it had been bought, and the insurance

company had turned down the claim and terminated the Policy. Mr Arnesen was seen

to respond, agreeing that the insurance company had refused to pay.

Mr Arnesen claimed that his life had been threatened by Mr Flanagan. Mr Flanagan on

camera denied this allegation and referred to the person whom he considered had made

the threat as "lower than a snake's belly".

The reporter commented that Mr Arnesen blamed many of his troubles on Mrs

Richardson. Mrs Richardson was then interviewed and asked if she was "a woman

scorned". In her reply she said that it had been her choice to end the relationship.

By way of footnote to the item, the presenter stated that the Police had not charged

anyone with threatening Mr Arnesen, but that "their file on him remained open".

The programme revealed Mr Arnesen's address and home phone number and showed

pictures of the house which he and his family rented.

The Complaints

Murray Arnesen complained to TVNZ first, that the programme breached his privacy,

and secondly, that it was inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced. His complaint was made

on 23 January 1997 and relates to the second screening of the programme.

Specifically, Mr Arnesen's concerns, as the Authority understands them in relation to

the standards complaint, were that:

1. Explanations to all allegations made against him in the programme had been

provided in the interviews he had given 60 Minutes, but these had either been

broadcast partially, or broadcast out of context.

2. Written explanations to the allegations had been provided to TVNZ, but these

were not aired, resulting in reliance on the on camera interviews.

3. The additional information to balance the allegations made had been provided

to TVNZ but not screened on the programme. An example was that Mrs Richardson

had made her allegations of adultery the day after she had been fired as the church


4. There were inaccurate facts broadcast on the programme.

The Standards

In relation to his privacy complaint, Mr Arnesen alleged a breach of section 4(1)(c) of

the Broadcasting Act 1989. This section provides:

4(1) Every broadcaster is responsible for maintaining in its programmes and

their presentation, standards which are consistent with -

(c) The privacy of the individual

In relation to his second complaint, he alleged a breach of standards G1, G3, G4, G6,

G7, G10, G13, G14, G15, G19 and G20 of the Television Code of Broadcasting


In relation to standards G1, G3, G4, G6, G7, G10, and G13, broadcasters are required:

G1 To be truthful and accurate on points of fact.

G3 To acknowledge the right of individuals to express their own opinions.

G4 To deal justly and fairly with any person taking part or referred to in

any programme.

G6 To show balance, impartiality and fairness in dealing with political

matters, current affairs and all questions of a controversial nature.

G7 To avoid the use of any deceptive programme practice in the

presentation of programmes which takes advantage of the confidence

viewers have in the integrity of broadcasting.

G10 To ensure there is no collusion in contests between broadcasters and

contestants which results in the favouring of any contestant over


G13 To avoid portraying people in a way which represents as inherently

inferior, or is likely to encourage discrimination against, any section of

the community on account of sex, race, age, disability, occupational

status, sexual orientation or the holding of any religious, cultural or

political belief. This requirement is not intended to prevent the

broadcast of material which is:

i) factual, or

ii) the expression of genuinely-held opinion in a news or

current affairs programme, or

iii) in the legitimate context of a humorous, satirical or

dramatic work.

Standards G14, G15, G19, and G20 which relate to news, current affairs and

documentaries provide:

News must be presented accurately, objectively and impartially.

G15 The standards of integrity and reliability of information sources in

news, current affairs and documentaries should be monitored regularly.

G19 Care must be taken in the editing of programme material to ensure that

the extracts used are a true reflection and not a distortion of the original

event or the overall views expressed.

G20 No set formula can be advanced for the allocation of time to interested

parties on controversial public issues. Broadcasters should aim to

present all significant sides in as fair a way as possible, and this can be

done only by judging every case on its merits.

The Broadcaster's Response

TVNZ, in responding to Mr Arnesen, considered his privacy complaint under section

4(1)(c), but argued with Mr Arnesen in relation to his second complaint:

... despite the number of standards you quoted the nub of your complaint

seemed to TVNZ to lie with standard G4, and it was upon the matter of

fairness to you that our deliberations were focussed.

In respect of the privacy complaint, TVNZ considered that the information was

public and in the public interest and it declined to uphold the complaint.

In relation to the standards complaint, TVNZ, while assessing the complaint under

each separate standard mentioned, advised it was satisfied that given the extensive

documentation and research that went into the making of the programme, there was no

breach of the fairness requirement. It declined to uphold the complaint.

The Referral

In referring his complaints to the Authority, Mr Arnesen considered the response

from TVNZ to be unacceptable, evasive, and totally inappropriate in that it missed

the context of his objection. He believed TVNZ had deliberately confused the issues.

Extensive correspondence followed which is summarised in the Appendix. TVNZ

remained of the view that it had not breached the Broadcasting Act 1989.

The Authority's Findings

The Authority begins its determination by observing that the programme complained

about centred on the probity of an individual whose alleged actions, while superficially

of interest, had no significant impact on other than the small number of people


Normally, as a matter of basic fairness, the Authority considers that a person's

private conduct should not be exposed to public scrutiny unless there is a matter at

stake that is unquestionably in the wider public interest.


The Authority first considers Mr Arnesen's complaint that TVNZ breached his


The first question relating to privacy which the Authority considers is whether the

screening of the programme which revealed facts of a normally private nature,

breached section 4(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has developed a number of Privacy Principles

which it applies in the interpretation of section 4(1)(c). Principles vi) and vii) state:

vi) Discussing the matter in the "public interest", defined as of legitimate

concern or interest to the public, is a defence to an individuals claim

for privacy.

vii) An individual who consents to the invasion of his or her privacy,

cannot later succeed in a claim for breach of privacy.

In this particular case, in the view of the Authority, the facts are rather unusual in that

Mr Arnesen had himself elected to enter the public arena, first, in his exposure of the

details of the allegations of adultery around the Tauranga church community and by

pursuing a defamation action against Mrs Richardson and, secondly, by responding to

TVNZ's invitation to be interviewed. Thus while Mr Arnesen might have been able

to claim under principle vi) that the breach of his privacy was not in the public

interest, he has, by electing to enter the public arena, lost any protection under

principle vii).

In relation to the specific complaint that the programme disclosed Mr Arnesen's home

address and phone number, and showed a picture of his home, the Authority

concludes that a person's privacy is not breached when the facts are not themselves

private. Mr Arnesen's address and phone number are available through the local

phone book, and enable his house to be located. As a Pastor, these details would also

have been made public. Because this factual information cannot be regarded as

publicly offensive, the disclosure does not breach principle i) which states:

i) The protection of privacy includes protection against the public

disclosure of private facts where the facts disclosed are highly

offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary


For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the privacy complaint.


With respect to Mr Arnesen's second complaint, the Authority considered that it was

necessary to request from TVNZ the unedited tapes of all its interviews with Mr

Arnesen. It decided that this action was appropriate in light of the specific concerns

raised by Mr Arnesen that the explanations to allegations made in the programme had

been provided in the interviews he had given 60 Minutes, but that these had either been

broadcast partially or broadcast out of context. In response to the Authority's

request, TVNZ advised that the information on the tapes no longer existed. TVNZ

explained that because there had been no formal complaint about the first screening of

the programme, the tapes on which the interviews had been recorded had been reused.

This action, it continued, was consistent with its policy and normal practice.

As the Authority is unable to view the field tapes, it is unable to determine that aspect

of the complaint which alleged that the editing practices used resulted in the omission

given by Mr Arnesen. While it appreciates that there has been no conscious attempt

on TVNZ's behalf to prevent consideration of the issues, it is surprised, given the

possibly contentious nature of the programme and TVNZ's knowledge it could well

be screened again, that it did not retain some record (either tape or transcript) of the

original interviews. The Authority is obliged to restrict its consideration of the

complaint to the material before it. It reiterates that Mr Arnesen and TVNZ have

provided very full submissions to the Authority.

The Authority has taken into account the standards listed by Mr Arnesen, and

TVNZ's view that the nub of the complaint lies with standard G4. After considering

these matters, the Authority has assessed the complaint under standards G1, G4, and

G19. The Authority's consideration under these broad standards incorporates the

more particular aspects to which the other standards cited by Mr Arnesen are directed

and, in the Authority's opinion, best reflect his concerns.

The Authority is not able to establish the truth or otherwise of the allegations made

about Mr Arnesen. Nor is the Authority the proper body to make a determination on

such matters, which are the province of a Court of law in appropriate proceedings

where evidence can be properly adduced. Accordingly, for the reasons given above, it

is unable to uphold Mr Arnesen's complaint alleging breaches of standard G19 and

standard G1. Rather, at this point in its determination, the Authority is concerned to

ensure first, that the programme provided Mr Arnesen with a chance to comment on

all the allegations made, and, secondly, that consequently it did not breach the fairness

requirement imposed in standard G4.

The Authority has made a detailed study of the programme as broadcast on 10

January 1997. The tone throughout the programme was designed to make the viewer

have little sympathy for Mr Arnesen. At certain points statements were made such

as "Who do you believe?" with the clear inference that the viewer would be unlikely to

believe Mr Arnesen, and the statement at the end of the programme "...but their file

[Police] on him [Mr Arnesen] remains open," leads the viewer to the conclusion that

Mr Arnesen is possibly still being investigated by the Police. The Authority assumes

this reference to possibly ongoing inquiries refers to the fire at his restaurant. If this is

the case, the broadcaster could usefully have made that plain.

In the voluminous correspondence, Mr Arnesen listed at least seventeen points on

which he claimed the programme breached the standards. The Authority declines to

uphold his complaint in respect of the majority of the points raised. Nevertheless, the

Authority finds that there were three major areas where Mr Arnesen was not accorded

a fair opportunity on the programme to comment on allegations made.

1. The interviews with two women

The interviews were introduced in the context of comments made by a Pastor in

Tauranga, Rod Collins, advising that a number of people in Mr Arnesen's congregation

had needed special counselling. The first woman said she had come to Mr Arnesen for

marriage counselling but had been told by him that she was a worthless person and she

said he had "come on to her". The second woman said Mr Arnesen had come to her

house when she was alone to pray for her, and had made what she construed were

sexual advances towards her. Mr Arnesen was not given any opportunity on the

programme to comment on either of the allegations. In his submissions to the

Authority he has questioned the credibility of the women and he said that he had

provided evidence to TVNZ, which he considered impacted on their credibility, prior

to the first screening of the programme.

2. Financial Management

Mark Flanagan, a member of the Christian Family Church, advised in an on-screen

interview that he had been asked to look into and after the church finances, but that he

had been unhappy with the state of the accounts. He had reported his misgivings, he

said, to the elders of the church. The elders had tried to remove Pastor Arnesen but

this had proved impossible. The three elders had then resigned.

There was a clear implication from Mr Flanagan's comments that there had been a

misuse of funds by Mr Arnesen. Mr Arnesen was not seen to have an opportunity to

respond. The question put to Mr Arnesen after this aspect of the item does not

appear to the Authority to be related to the implication raised by Mr Flanagan.

3. Restaurant Fire

Reference was made to, and photographs shown of the takeaway bar, jointly owned

by Mr and Mrs Arnesen and a partner, which had been gutted by fire. The

programme advised that it had burnt down three weeks after the business had been

purchased, and the insurance company had refused to cover the loss and terminated

the policy. Coming immediately after information that Mr Arnesen owed Income

Support $6,000, it appears to the Authority that the inference could be made that

some dishonesty was involved in the restaurant fire. It considers this inference to

have been unfair to Mr Arnesen. Mr Arnesen was given the opportunity to comment

about the insurance, and confirmed that his insurance company had refused the claim.

However, the Authority considers that there are a number of reasons why a claim may

be refused, and a policy terminated, which do not necessarily involve suspicion of

wrongdoing. The Authority notes that it was advised that the fire incident report gave

electrical failure as the cause of the fire, and the police have not, one year after the fire,

laid any charges.

Accordingly, the Authority is of the view that on these points the programme failed to

deal justly and fairly with Mr Arnesen, and upholds the complaint that standard G4

was breached.

The Authority has given careful thought to the question of the reporting of Mr

Arnesen's alleged adulterous affair. Mr Arnesen provided a detailed rebuttal of Mrs

Richardson's claims, possibly the most telling – from his perspective – being his

contention that she had made her allegation a day after she had been sacked by him as

church organist. In other words, he contended that she was motivated by a desire for

revenge. This line of argument did not feature prominently in the programme.

Although TVNZ asked Mrs Richardson "Are you a woman scorned?", this was not in

relation to the sequence of events he outlined. Without his claim of the immediacy of

her actions, the question had less relevance, and the effect of this was arguably unfair

to Mr Arnesen. However, the Authority considers that any breach was marginal, as

he had ample opportunity to deny his involvement with Mrs Richardson throughout

the programme.

The Authority has already observed that correspondence on the detailed arguments

advanced by both Mr Arnesen and TVNZ had been extensive. Mr Arnesen's rebuttal

of the allegations against him depended largely on minutiae which it would have been

impossible to convey within the constraints of a television programme, so it was

inevitable that his main points only would be addressed. The Authority considers

that TVNZ performed this editing function responsibly and fairly overall.


For the reasons set forth above, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint

that the programme breached section 4(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. It

upholds the complaint that aspects of the item broadcast by Television New

Zealand Limited on 60 Minutes on 10 January 1997 breached standard G4 of the

Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. It declines to uphold any other

aspect of the standards complaint.

Having upheld a complaint, the Authority may make an order under s. 13(1) of the

Broadcasting Act 1989. As the Authority in this case has upheld only three aspects

of many aspects raised, and has not upheld the privacy complaint, it does not consider

an order is appropriate, given the passage of time since the broadcast and the lack of

broad public interest in the subject matter of the programme.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Lyndsay Loates
7 August 1997


Murray Arnesen's Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 23 January 1997

Mr Murray Arnesen of Tauranga complained to Television New Zealand Ltd about

the 60 Minutes programme broadcast on two occasions – 29 September 1996 and 10

January 1997. He considered that his privacy had been breached and he also referred

to standards G1, G3, G4, G6, G7, G10, G13, G14, G15, G19, G20 and G21 of the

Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.

He advised that the programme, which was about him, contained allegations which he

denied absolutely. He said that full explanations in relation to the allegations had been

given to the reporter concerned, but these had either not been broadcast, broadcast

partially, or broadcast out of context.

He outlined the allegations made in the programme and then set out the information

which he said had been provided to 60 Minutes but not broadcast.


1. Allegation of Adultery

TVNZ alleged in the programme that he had committed adultery. Valerie Richardson,

who was the music coordinator of the church at the time he was Pastor, admitted to

having had an affair with Mr Arnesen.

Information provided but not broadcast

* That Mrs Richardson was advised she was losing the position as head of music the

day before she made the allegation. Mr Arnesen said that she had vowed to 'get even'.

* After the allegation, Mr Arnesen said, he had offered to the Governing Board of the

Church to step down as Pastor while an investigation was undertaken. Two

investigations were carried out. Both cleared him completely.

* During the initial investigatory process by TVNZ, Mrs Richardson claimed to have

cards and love letters which Mr Arnesen had sent her. However, these had never been


* Mr Arnesen had an intimate mark on his body which Mrs Richardson had been

unable to describe. He said that he had offered to have an examination by a doctor of

Mrs Richardson's choice, but she had refused.

* Mr Arnesen advised that he had a document written by Mrs Richardson which

stated she was 'concealing a lie about her allegations', and also a letter which asked her

family to create alibis for her.

* The love messages alleged to have been sent by Mr Arnesen to Mrs Richardson

were dubbed by Mrs Richardson, and the one broadcast by 60 Minutes, if heard in full,

would not have revealed any love messages.

* Mrs Richardson had represented herself as his wife in order to gain family

documents and had been charged in the Tauranga District Court with telephone

offences. She had been given diversion. She had also made malicious calls to him and

his daughter.

* Mrs Richardson had asked in a letter for a Tauranga evangelist to lie for her.

* Mrs Richardson had an affair with another Pastor in Tauranga.

2. Pastor Rod Collins

* On the programme Pastor Rod Collins had said that many people had left Mr

Arnesen's church in a distraught state and had gone to his church and had required

special counselling.

Information provided by Mr Arnesen

Mr Arnesen said he had asked one family to leave and Mrs Richardson had also left.

3. Hollywood Diner

The programme intimated possible arson in the fire at Mr Arnesen's restaurant.

Information provided by Mr Arnesen

Mr Arnesen reported that the insurance company's withholding of payment was due

to a fictitious story provided to the insurers by Mrs Richardson.

4. Church Treasurer

Mr Arnesen denied, as claimed on the TV programme, that he was the Treasurer for

the church.

5. Income Support

The programme advised that Income Support was seeking payment of $6,000.00 from

Mr Arnesen.

Information provided by Mr Arnesen

Mr Arnesen provided details of his and his wife's relationship with Income Support

and provided and quoted from part of a letter that stated that an incorrect decision to

make payment had been made by a customer services officer, and stressing that Mr

Arnesen had not misled the Service to obtain the benefit.

6. Teaching of Armourbearers

An interview with Mr Bob Groves a former member of Mr Arnesen's church

regarding the teaching of armourbearers, alleged there were some Antichrist

connotations in Mr Arnesen's teachings.

Information Provided by Mr Arnesen

Mr Arnesen advised that it was an Old Testament concept and not to be applied

literally in every respect in a modern context.

7. Two Women Interviewed

Mr Arnesen was advised 48 hours before the programme screened that the women

would be interviewed.

Information provided by Mr Arnesen

According to Mr Arnesen, both of the women were friends of Mrs Richardson. One

of the women had a history of mental problems and, prior to the first screening of the

programme, Mr Arnesen had received an apology for the broadcast from her husband.

In respect of the other woman, Mr Arnesen advised that she had a habit of making

false claims. Her mother had provided a letter to Mr Arnesen to provide to 60

Minutes regarding her psychiatric condition and to point out that she could not be

taken seriously.

8. Excommunication

The claim was made that Mr Arnesen was excommunicated. This was denied by Mr


9. Diary

The programme mentioned that Mr Arnesen had withdrawn legal action against Mrs

Richardson after he had refused to release his diary to Mrs Richardson's lawyer.

Information provided by Mr Arnesen

Mr Arnesen said that other Pastors in Tauranga City recommended that he withdraw

legal action, as it was not the "done thing" among Christians to take such action.

10. Police Raid

A police raid was mentioned on the programme without further explanation.

Information provided by Mr Arnesen

Mrs Richardson, Mr Arnesen said, claimed that he had made death threats to her over

the phone. Mr Arnesen maintained that this action did not relate to him. Mr Arnesen

added that in a twist to this he had received an anonymous letter relating to the

screening of Murder She Wrote, which he interpreted as a threat and which he advised

came from Mrs Richardson.

11. Home telephone number and address shown

The programme showed a picture of Mr Arnesen's home, his telephone number and

his address. Mr Arnesen said he and his family felt violated and abused and felt that

their privacy had been invaded.

In conclusion, Mr Arnesen wrote:

The reality of 60 Minutes' one sided presentation has left me totally humiliated

to the point where my integrity and character have been questioned to the limit

and it has been a nightmare to us. We feel destroyed and our lives have been

immeasurably altered because of this programme. It will be extremely difficult

for me to continue in the Ministry and, even to obtain other employment would

be extremely difficult because of 60 Minutes' false representation of me.

Additional Information Provided to TVNZ by Mr Arnesen – 30 January 1997

Interview with Michael Flanagan

In the programme, Mr Flanagan had said he was 'asked to look after the Church books

and the finance tidying side of the Church affairs'.

Mr Arnesen advised that Mr Flanagan's job profile was to assist the Church Treasurer

with banking, cash book entries and payment of accounts.

In respect of the statement by Mr Flanagan that the elders had tried unsuccessfully to

fire him, Mr Arnesen pointed out that he had told 60 Minutes that there was no truth

to the claim.

On the programme, Mr Flanagan claimed to have examined the Church books. Mr

Arnesen disputed that this had been done given that not one entry was made during

the time Mr Flanagan was meant to be assisting the Church Treasurer.

Additional Information Provided to TVNZ by Mr Arnesen – 12 February 1997

Apostolic Church

The programme stated that when he had left the Apostolic Church in Tauranga he did

so with a 'good chunk of the congregation'. Mr Arnesen advised that not one person

left with him.

TVNZ's Response to the Formal Complaint – 5 March 1997

TVNZ considered the complaint under the standards nominated by Mr Arnesen.

However, it advised that it considered the nub of Mr Arnesen's complaint lay under

standard G4, and it was upon the matter of fairness that TVNZ's response was

focused. Standard G4 requires broadcasters:

G4   To deal justly and fairly with any person taking part or referred to in any


As a general observation, TVNZ began its response to Mr Arnesen:

... the story broadcast was one which was in the public interest. As a pastor and

leader of a Christian flock there are certain standards expected of one in your

position. Coming with the role of churchman are certain obligations of moral

leadership, and evidence of a pastor straying from these obligations is clearly

something which any responsible news media outlet should cover, once the

necessary research and checking process has been carried out.

TVNZ went through the specific points mentioned in Mr Arnesen's letter of


The alleged affair with Mrs Richardson

In response to Mr Arnesen's statement that Mrs Richardson had only made the

allegation after having been advised she would not be head of the music department,

TVNZ said that it was noted on a number of occasions in the programme that Mr

Arnesen was seen specifically to deny that adultery had taken place. Those specific

instances were identified by TVNZ. The reporter had also asked Mrs Richardson "so

Val, is it about revenge ... are you a woman scorned?"

TVNZ advised:

We make the observation here that any amount of comment for or against a

position can be found during an investigation of this nature. Claims and counter-

claims are made. It is part of editorial judgement and editorial process that

material is sifted through to identify that which has credibility.

TVNZ said it considered the claim that Mrs Richardson was getting back at Mr

Arnesen lacked credibility and, in justification, provided evidence of intimidation by

Mr Arnesen of Mrs Richardson. TVNZ said that it made no sense at all to fire

someone, and then spend more than a year harassing them.

TVNZ then advised Mr Arnesen:

It also has to be said that the reporter, aware that you had been less than truthful

in denying your admission of intimidation, was properly circumspect about

judging your other comments and was careful not to include material which was

quite possibly not true, or which might have been unfair to Mrs Richardson.

In respect of Mr Arnesen's advice that the investigation undertaken had cleared him

completely, TVNZ advised that its information showed that the International

Convention of Faith Ministries in fact had suspended both Mr Arnesen and Mrs

Richardson and that the suspensions remained in force.

In reference to the cards and love letters which Mr Arnesen said Mrs Richardson had

not provided, these, according to TVNZ, were not included in the programme and

therefore had no relevance.

Regarding the information about the mark on Mr Arnesen's body, TVNZ explained

that it had decided not to screen that angle given the discrepancies in stories relating to

it. On this aspect, TVNZ commented:

Given Mrs Richardson's willingness to describe the mark only in a court of law,

and your reluctance to allow 60 Minutes to see a doctor's certificate which you

claim would vindicate your position, this whole issue seemed to have no

resolution. Because of that, and because of the question of taste which arises

when such material is discussed for no useful purpose, an editorial decision was

taken not to include this angle.

According to TVNZ, the document in Mrs Richardson's handwriting referred to by

Mr Arnesen, had no signature on it, was not dated, and lacked coherence. Mrs

Richardson, when asked, stated that she had not written it.

In reference to the tapes of love messages, TVNZ advised that it found no evidence

that the tapes were edited in any way. It said that there was a continuity of

background noise on each call which suggested that each was intact. It accepted the

authenticity of the tape and believed it was properly used in the programme to

illustrate the warmth of Mr Arnesen's relationship with Mrs Richardson. TVNZ


From a programme standards point of view we note that the programme

included balancing comment from you denying the authenticity of the tape.

Viewers had the opportunity to consider both the tape extracts and your denials.

This was in keeping with the reporter's on camera question - "Who do you


TVNZ advised that it was aware of the charges brought against Mrs Richardson but

did not screen them because it would have been unfair to Mrs Richardson when other

incidents relating to Mr Arnesen (dealt with in its letter) were unable to be broadcast.

TVNZ noted that:

... had this matter been included in the programme it would have to be pointed

out that Mrs Richardson's crime on this occasion was prompted by her anxiety

to provide proof of your telephone harassment.

In respect of Mr Arnesen's advice that Mrs Richardson was having an affair with

another Pastor, TVNZ contended that this did not have any relevance to the 60

Minutes item.

Pastor Collins advised that people left the church with Mr Arnesen

TVNZ pointed out that this reference was made by Pastor Collins who was spelling

out his genuine belief and opinion.

TVNZ noted that during its research at least ten people from different families who

had left Mr Arnesen's church, had cited dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Fire in the Restaurant-Hollywood Diner

TVNZ recorded that it had seen no evidence to support Mr Arnesen's claim that Mrs

Richardson had contacted the insurance company. It advised of information it had

received which supported the programme's stance on the fire.

Mr Arnesen as Treasurer

TVNZ advised that amendments to the rules for the society running the church stated

that the office of director, treasurer and Pastor may be jointly held. TVNZ noted that

Mr Arnesen signed the cheques and prepared the accounts and signed the lease on the

church property, indicating a position as treasurer. It noted that it had information

which showed that the Society was facing dissolution for failing to file accounts.

Income Support

TVNZ reported that, under the Official Information Act, it had received information

from Income Support which stated 'Income Support is investigating Mr Arnesen for

fraud'. A subsequent check indicated that Mr Arnesen's case had yet to be reviewed.

TVNZ stated:

Again, from a programme standards point of view, the reporter's observations

about your dealings with Income Support were balanced in the programme itself.

You were shown dismissing the allegations with the words "don't be silly, don't

be silly, and if you want to suggest such things then you are just irresponsible".

Teaching of Armourbearers

TVNZ maintained that Mr Arnesen was treated fairly, adding:

Mr Bob Groves expressed some concern about the teaching of armourbearers.

He said "It's not really Christian; it's not what is depicted in the Scriptures".

But this was followed immediately by an extract from the interview with you in

which you say "what we're saying here is that you need to be willing to lay

down your own desire to benefit someone else".

We do not understand how you can accuse the reporter of "not airing anything

that I said regarding this" when the above quote is considered.

The subsequent extract from your sermon was editorially valid because it again

referred back to the "who do you believe?" question asked by the reporter.

Two Women Interviewed

TVNZ acknowledged that one of the women had previously been counselled for

depression, but this was not considered to have any bearing on her ability to tell the

truth. The woman's husband was adamant that he had not apologised to Mr Arnesen.

In reference to the second woman, TVNZ was aware of the letter sent to Mr Arnesen

from her mother but advised that it did not support the statements made by Mr

Arnesen – matters which were not raised with TVNZ prior to screening. TVNZ said

that Mr Arnesen was aware of the interviews three days before their broadcast but did

not discuss their inclusion with 60 Minutes. A studio piece after the item, TVNZ

continued, put Mr Arnesen's view that Mrs Richardson and the other women were

involved in a conspiracy to discredit Mr Arnesen.


Mr Arnesen's assertions that he had never been excommunicated, TVNZ advised,

were broadcast clearly in the programme. TVNZ said its sources for the assertion that

Mr Arnesen was excommunicated were checked thoroughly.


TVNZ said that it understood that pressure had been applied for months by other

pastors for Mr Arnesen to discontinue his defamation action against Mrs Richardson,

but it seemed worthy of reporting that the offer to call it off was made one day before

Mrs Richardson's lawyer was to have access to Mr Arnesen's diary.

Police Raid

TVNZ acknowledged that it was aware of the circumstances surrounding the raid, but

did not see how publication of the outcome would have improved public perception of

Mr Arnesen's character. It added:

Your complaint goes on to discuss allegations you say were made by Mrs

Richardson which you can refute. These comments seem to us to be muddled

and do not seem to have any bearing at all on the contents of the 60 Minutes

item. Similarly we do not understand what your references to Angela Lansbury

and Murder She Wrote have to do with what was contained in the programme.

Home telephone number and address

TVNZ did not consider the picture of the home had breached Mr Arnesen's privacy.

It commented:

With respect, the pictures did no more than show that anybody at all could find

your address and telephone number simply by looking up the telephone


Interview with Michael Flanagan

TVNZ advised that it had checked the information provided in this segment of the

programme. It stated that Mr Arnesen had refused an inspection of all the church

accounts. TVNZ said that Mr Flanagan did not make book entries because he did not

wish to be implicated in what seemed to him to be a misuse of church funds.

Apostolic Church

On the matter of Mr Arnesen taking " a good chunk of the congregation with you",

TVNZ said that the information was confirmed by the pastor of the Apostolic


TVNZ drew Mr Arnesen's attention to other information which it considered

impacted on his credibility but which had not been broadcast.

TVNZ then considered the complaint under the standards nominated by Mr Arnesen.


TVNZ explained that if Mr Arnesen saw the whole programme as an invasion of his

privacy, then it would argue that because of his role as pastor and moral guardian, the

matters raised were in the public interest. It referred to the Authority's Privacy

Principle (vi).

If Mr Arnesen considered that the interviews invaded his privacy, then it referred to

Privacy Principle (vii).

If Mr Arnesen's privacy complaint related to the broadcast of his address and phone

number, then TVNZ referred to Privacy Principles (v) and (vi).


TVNZ found no evidence of inaccuracies or untrue statements in the programme

(standard G1).

Standard G3 acknowledged the right of individuals to express their own opinions.

TVNZ pointed out that the programme gave Mr Arnesen ample opportunities to

respond to the allegations made against him.

TVNZ advised that it was satisfied, given the extensive documentation and research

that went into the making of the programme, that there was no breach of the fairness

requirement in standard G4.

As the item was considered to be balanced and fair, and as Mr Arnesen was given an

opportunity to comment on what his critics said, TVNZ did not consider there to

have been a breach of standards G6, G20, or G4.

TVNZ did not consider standards G7, G10, or G21 were relevant.

TVNZ defended standard G13 on the grounds that sub-clause (i) allowed for the

broadcast of material which was factual. Subclause (ii) applied, TVNZ added, to the

expressions of genuine opinion made about Mr Arnesen by some of the participants in

the programme.

As far as standard G15 was concerned, TVNZ was satisfied with the reliability and

integrity of the sources used on the programme.

Standard G19 was not breached in TVNZ's view because the programme was a 'true

reflection' of the situation being described.

TVNZ declined to uphold Mr Arnesen's complaint.

Mr Arnesen's Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 10 March

Dissatisfied with TVNZ's response, Mr Arnesen referred his complaint to the

Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Mr Arnesen wrote:

The programme featured allegations against me of which I deny absolutely.

Full explanations of the allegations were given to Television One in a recorded

interview and also by correspondence. None of my explanations were aired

except partially and out of the context they were given. This was despite

assurances both verbally and in writing from Television One that they would

bring an accurate, fair and balanced representation.

My wife, family, congregation and I feel totally humiliated and betrayed by 60

Minutes, who promised to bring an accurate, fair and balanced screening.

On the programme, I had several allegations made against me and I deny all

these allegations. I supplied evidence to TVNZ which would vindicate and

confirm my denials of the allegations, and if these were used by TVNZ then it

is my opinion that they would not have run the programme. They wilfully

made excuses not to look at, or verify my claim of innocence. As a result of

this programme going to air, my life has been immeasurably altered to the

point where returning to what was my usual lifestyle is now impossible.

Mr Arnesen divided his letter into two parts. Part One outlined the inaccuracies

presented on the 60 Minutes programme and Part Two dealt with TVNZ's response

to his complaint. Part One repeated the information contained in the complaint to

TVNZ (summarised above). In Part Two, Mr Arnesen wrote:

When I was first approached by TVNZ to do an interview regarding the

allegations I did so on the basis that the interview would not be taken out of

the context that it was given in. I was given this assurance by Ian Wishart

and I have enclosed a copy of a note he had written out for me which I

feel has been neglected. I was quite happy for the interview to go ahead

provided that the information I gave to them (which could all be proved) was

aired. It is my opinion that TVNZ has again wilfully neglected to use the

information I gave because it would have not provided them with a "good

story" as it confirmed my denials of the allegations made against me.

John Hudson and Paul Cutler from TVNZ also assured me that the programme

would be fair, balanced, accurate and in good taste. Their correspondence to

me, of which I have enclosed copies to you reveals this.

The programme that went to air was constructed around baseless allegations

and because of TVNZ's shoddy journalism, myself, wife, son, congregation

and other family members have been totally discredited and humiliated.

I accept that TVNZ interviewers have included partially, some of my denials

of the allegations made against me, however it was the manner that they

portrayed these denials that also concerned me. The way the interviewer

spoke of my denials was almost tongue in cheek as if to say "do you really

believe this man." Many have spoken to me of the way the 60 Minutes

programme "hung me out to dry".

I originally had no problem with the programme going to air because I was

assured by TVNZ that they would be professional and bring the balance

they had promised. This gave me confidence that they would air the facts

and I would be cleared of the allegations against me or at the very least there

would be true representation. By this I mean that if my character and integrity

was to be questioned then those who brought the allegations would also have

had to stand the same test. Clearly the programme was far from what they

had promised.

Mr Arnesen then referred to each section of TVNZ's response and commented as


In response to TVNZ's comment about the role and obligations of a churchman,

Mr Arnesen was happy with this idea presented by TVNZ but did not believe that in

his case the proper investigation had been undertaken. He advised:

You will see from this objection as it continues that they have clearly not

adhered to a thorough investigation and when provided with facts that would

vindicate myself they have deliberately overlooked them in favour of half-


Mr Arnesen then went on to discuss the allegation of adultery on the programme and

the issues of credibility it raised. He referred to TVNZ's comment about editorial

judgment and the editorial process and stated in response:

I do not accept that TVNZ or anyone else has the right to broadcast something

that they say has credibility, without the facts.

In response to the issues of his credibility raised by TVNZ, Mr Arnesen advised in

detail of the way that he believed he had been set up by Mrs Richardson. Moreover,

he asserted, while his credibility had been questioned, that of Mrs Richardson had not.

He argued that this showed partiality and was in breach of the Broadcasting Code.

Two Investigations

Mr Arnesen repeated that TVNZ failed to mention that he was cleared of any wrong

doing by two investigating teams. In response to the assertion by TVNZ that he and

Mrs Richardson were suspended by the International Convention of Faith Ministries,

Mr Arnesen agreed, but advised that it was because he was pursuing legal action

against Mrs Richardson at the time. He understood that if he chose now to apply for

membership, he would be accepted.

Mr Arnesen reiterated that once the allegation against him was made by Mrs

Richardson, he immediately offered to step down. That point, he said, had received

no coverage from TVNZ.

Cards and letters held by Mrs Richardson

Mr Arnesen believed that the issue was relevant as it would have affected Mrs

Richardson's credibility.

The Mark

Mr Arnesen found it difficult to accept that TVNZ, which said it wanted to establish

credibility, accepted Mrs Richardson's word at face value without making any checks.

He provided information which he believed showed that Mrs Richardson was not

aware of the mark on his body.

Document in Mrs Richardson's handwriting

Mr Arnesen believed that the information he had provided to both TVNZ and the

Authority clearly showed that Mrs Richardson was a liar.

Tape Recordings

Mr Arnesen was adamant that the tapes were edited and that the messages of love

were in fact sent to his wife.

The use by the reporter of the words, "Who do you believe?", together with the

manner in which he said it, was not, Mr Arnesen considered, unbiased.

Charges against Mrs Richardson

Mr Arnesen referred to TVNZ's comments about his alleged telephone harassment of

Mrs Richardson. He said that as with other items mentioned in the formal complaint,

TVNZ had also got this wrong. He advised that Mrs Richardson had lied to the Police

about phone calls and considered that TVNZ had not adequately investigated her


Mrs Richardson's affair with another senior church member

Mr Arnesen said he included this as an indication of Mrs Richardson's character. He

said that she said on the programme that her 'relationship with God was most

important', and that was why she needed to confess that a relationship between her

and Mr Arnesen had existed. Mr Arnesen asked why had she not referred to her

relationship with another senior church member.

Pastor Rod Collins

Mr Arnesen referred to comments, other than those raised with TVNZ, made by Rod

Collins and provided correspondence to reinforce his viewpoint. He referred to Rod

Collins' assertion that people had left Mr Arnesen's church and needed special

counselling. He believed that the portrayal of the report from Rod Collins was


Restaurant Fire

Mr Arnesen believed that TVNZ had tried to persuade the public to a biased view

against him by leaving out relevant material.


Mr Arnesen again denied that he was Treasurer even given the amendment to the

Society's rules mentioned by TVNZ. He said that he had control of all the finances

and was operating with the utmost integrity.

Income Support

Mr Arnesen denied that Income Support was seeking, as stated on the programme,

repayment of $6,000.00. He repeated the information, provided in his complaint to

TVNZ, that Income Support had advised him that there was no overpayment made.

Teaching Armourbearers

Mr Arnesen believed that TVNZ had edited the audio tape of the lecture given on the

subject, thereby portraying a wrong image. He also believed the reporter had been

biased in his presentation. Mr Arnesen said:

I believe that it is not just what people say but also the way in which they say


Interview with Two Women

Mr Arnesen said that it was clear that Mrs Richardson coerced the two women into

making the statements which he described as disgusting and totally false.

He advised that he had discussed the inclusion of the interviews with TVNZ – as was

evidenced by the correspondence he enclosed. He did not believe, however, that

adequate time was given for comment.

Mr Arnesen also challenged the mental status of the women and advised that TVNZ

should have researched this matter thoroughly before broadcasting the interviews.


Mr Arnesen denied that he had been excommunicated.


Mr Arnesen believed it was ridiculous for TVNZ to assert that he had called off the

defamation proceedings one day before Mrs Richardson was to have access to his

diary. He maintained that the time span was months, not one day.

Police Raid

Mr Arnesen explained that the term "raid" used on the programme was misleading.

Two policemen, he said, arrived at his home and took his diaries away for inspection.

Home Telephone number and address

Mr Arnesen reinforced his concern that by broadcasting a picture of his home

telephone number and address, TVNZ had breached his privacy.

Michael Flanagan

Mr Arnesen refuted Mr Flanagan's claim that he did not want to make book entries

because he did not wish to be implicated in a misuse of church funds. Mr Arnesen

believed Mr Flanagan had other motives.

Apostolic Church

Mr Arnesen refuted TVNZ's claim that people had left the Apostolic Church to join

his church.

In concluding, Mr Arnesen reinforced his earlier comments on the overall devastating

effect the programme had had on him and his family.

TVNZ's Response to the Authority – 20 March 1997

TVNZ advised that it stood by its earlier response to Mr Arnesen but wished to

respond to some of the comments contained in his referral to the Authority.

TVNZ selected quotes from Mr Arnesen's letter and followed them with its response.

I was given this assurance by Ian Wishart and I have enclosed a copy of a note

he had written out for me which I feel has been neglected.

TVNZ pointed out that the interview in which Mr Arnesen was shown seated was

recorded by Ian Wishart at a different time from other material included in the

programme, but was about the same story.

TVNZ did not believe that the comments have been taken out of context, The

excerpts, it said, made it clear that Mr Arnesen denied having a sexual relationship

with Mrs Richardson. The interviewer also advised, "this interview was taped last


The way the interviewer spoke of my denials were almost tongue in cheek.

TVNZ said it detected nothing in the reporter's vocal delivery which put any spin on

the story. But given the information obtained it was valid for the reporter to ask,

"Who do you believe?"

I was assured by TVNZ that they would be professional and bring the balance

they had promised.

TVNZ considered that the programme was balanced. Mr Arnesen had been told that

the programme was about a variety of allegations about him, those allegations were

put to him, and he declined a further on-camera interview. He was asked to respond

when 60 Minutes encountered him emerging from his church, and his answers were

included in the programme. Later Mr Arnesen sent a fax, and some of its content was

incorporated in the programme. Mr Arnesen then asked the reporter not to phone


When provided with facts that would vindicate myself they have deliberately

overlooked them in favour of half-truths.

This was denied by TVNZ, citing Mr Arnesen's inability to provide full accounts of

his church, a doctor's certificate regarding the mark on his body, or his diary seized by

the Police.

I do not accept that TVNZ or anyone else had the right to broadcast something

that they say has credibility without the facts.

TVNZ advised:

The media has an obligation to draw to the public's attention matters which

(after careful and thorough investigation) indicate that a person, setting himself

up as a moral guardian, is not all that he seems to be.

As an example of its assertion that Mr Arnesen had been "sparing with the truth" in

dealing with 60 Minutes, it said he had first denied that he had been put on a good

behaviour bond for intimidating Mrs Richardson, but changed his story in light of the

facts as they emerged.

I have never intimidated or harassed Mrs Richardson. I have never lied

regarding this and my statement stands.

The comment was made in response to issues of credibility raised by TVNZ.

TVNZ annexed a number of documents which, it maintained, justified its approach.

It seems that the TVNZ writer questions my credibility.

This comment was also made in response to the issues of credibility raised and TVNZ

agreed that it had questioned Mr Arnesen's credibility.

Despite overwhelming facts which prove Ms Richardson's questionable

character he does not at all seem fazed by her credibility.

This comment again was made in response to credibility issues. TVNZ advised it was

unaware of the "overwhelming facts."

9. Two investigations

TVNZ attached a copy of a letter to the Trustees of the International Convention of

Faith Ministries (ICFM) which it said, tended to belie Mr Arnesen's assertions that

he was not suspended for an alleged adulterous affair. TVNZ provided to the

Authority copies of the tapes screened on the item which indicated that the

International Convention accepted as confirming an improper moral relationship


10. The Mark

The decision, TVNZ said, to leave this issue out of the programme was made because

of the conflicting evidence, which was not sorted out by Mr Arnesen.

TVNZ referred to a poster which Ms Richardson received concerning the mark.

TVNZ said that the elders mentioned by Mr Arnesen during his reference to the mark

had since resigned from his church and were not prepared to talk about it.

11. Document in Ms Richardson's handwriting

TVNZ remained unconvinced that Ms Richardson wrote the letter.

12. Mrs Richardson's affair with another Pastor

TVNZ reiterated that it did not consider this relevant.

13. Pastor Rod Collins

TVNZ advised that Mr Arnesen did not reply to the allegations made.

14. Restaurant Fire

TVNZ provided the Authority with further details which it claimed substantiated the

comments made in the programme.

15. Treasurer

TVNZ said it stood by its assertion that Mr Arnesen was the Treasurer.

16. Income Support

TVNZ enclosed a letter from Income Support obtained under the Official Information

Act 1982 which confirmed that Mr Arnesen was being investigated for benefit fraud.

TVNZ stood by the information broadcast.

I believe that it is not just what people say but also the way in which they say it.

TVNZ considered that no particular spin was given by the vocal delivery, when

discussing the teaching of Armourbearers. It said that it did appear that what Mr

Arnesen said in his interviews did contradict what he said on the sound tape.

18. Interview with two women

TVNZ noted that it was the reporter's recollection that he had advised Mr Arnesen of

the interview at least five days before the broadcast.

19. Contact with woman's mother

TVNZ advised that the letter from the mother of one of the women interviewed,

which had been forwarded to TVNZ by Mr Arnesen prior to the broadcast, was in its

view to be treated with cynicism, a view which it said, had latterly been confirmed.

It responded that depression did not make one a liar or unable to be interviewed.

TVNZ enclosed two letters relevant to this aspect.

20. Excommunication

TVNZ enclosed a letter from Pastor Kerry Townsend of Numbour, Queensland, to

Pastor Rod Collins of Tauranga which stated that Mr Arnesen was excommunicated

from the church. Pastor Townsend stood by the letter, TVNZ said when telephoned.

21. Diary

TVNZ enclosed a letter from Mr Arnesen's solicitors to Mrs Richardson's solicitors

dated 16 August 1995. The letter showed that the following day the diaries were to be

inspected. TVNZ considered that this contradicted Mr Arnesen's contention that the

withdrawal of the defamation action had nothing to do with the dairy.

22. Police Raid

TVNZ advised that the documentation attached showed that a search warrant was

obtained to search Mr Arnesen's premises.

23. Michael Flanagan

TVNZ stood by earlier claims in respect of the church books.

24. Final Observation

TVNZ advised that the programme fairly and truthfully canvassed an issue of public


Mr Arnesen's Final Comment – 27 March 1997

Mr Arnesen stated:

Having read TVNZ's response, I am persuaded that they are still deliberately

trying to evade the real issues and are trying to confuse what seems to be a

straight forward collection of errors on their part.

He commented on each section of their response.

Point 1

Mr Arnesen believed that the segment recorded with Ian Wishart was not used in the

context in which it was given. This interview, he said, was the only one he had given

his consent to.

Point 2

Mr Arnesen considered the "who do you believe" reference to have been mocking and

condescending; and that this lack of professionalism was reinforced by uninvited

comments he had received from other media organisations in his support.

Point 3

Mr Arnesen believed that his written comments to the questions posed should have

been aired, as he had requested.

Point 4

Mr Arnesen said that TVNZ had never asked him to provide the church diary. In

respect of the mark, Mr Arnesen said that he had offered in writing to Mrs Richardson

and TVNZ to go to a doctor of Mrs Richardson's choice. This had not been taken up.

Point 5

Mr Arnesen said that it was clear that TVNZ had not made a thorough investigation,

despite all the material and information Mr Arnesen had provided.

Point 6

Mr Arnesen maintained that he had never at any time intimidated or harassed Mrs

Richardson. He had reluctantly signed the material TVNZ referred to as it was the

only way that he could "get my life back."

Point 7

Mr Arnesen said he had no problem with any investigations and he believed, as a

person who held a position of trust, that he should be held accountable for any

misdemeanour. However, given the position, he did not believe he had been given

respect and right to a "fair trial" by the media.

Point 8

Mr Arnesen believed that TVNZ had adopted "one rule for me and another for Mrs

Richardson". He said TVNZ had advised that it could not, in fairness to her, introduce

the matter of her conviction to the public without referring to some material about Mr

Arnesen, which Mr Arnesen maintained, was inaccurate.

He believed that he had provided 60 Minutes with so many facts that it had

deliberately put them in the "too hard basket".

Point 9

Mr Arnesen reiterated that he was not suspended from ICFM for any alleged

adulterous affair, but for continuing on at that time with legal action against Ms

Richardson. He enclosed various letters as testimony of this and advised that the

letter provided by TVNZ in support of its claim was sent by Mrs Richardson to the

ICFM and not the other way around.

Point 10

Mr Arnesen believed that the mark was an important part of his complaint. He

explained that he had reservations about providing TVNZ with the doctor's certificate,

but had always been prepared to go to another doctor of its choice. Mr Arnesen said

that Mrs Richardson had already described the mark, but not correctly.

Point 11

Mr Arnesen believed that the handwritten document was clearly written by Mrs


Point 12

Mr Arnesen reiterated the importance of Mrs Richardson's alleged affair with another

Pastor in light of the reason she claimed for disclosing her affair with Mr Arnesen.

"It was a question of my relationship with God."

Mr Arnesen considered that if her conscience had made her disclose her alleged affair

with him, why was her other affair not also disclosed. He believed it was important to

include the information to show Mrs Richardson's lack of credibility.

Point 13

Mr Arnesen said that he was not, aside from the earlier interview with Ian Wishart,

given an opportunity to comment on what Pastor Rod Collins said.

Point 14

Mr Arnesen stated that because his insurance policy was relatively new, the company

has used a ploy not to pay out. He also said that Mrs Richardson's involvement did

not help.

Point 15

Mr Arnesen reiterated that he has never been a Treasurer of the Christian Family


Point 16

Mr Arnesen explained that there was no investigation for benefit fraud but that there

had been errors over whether he had resigned or whether he was not receiving payment

because the church lacked the funds to pay him. This was being clarified.

Point 17

Mr Arnesen believed that the part of the reporter's speech was mocking and


Point 18

Mr Arnesen disputed that he was told any more than four days in advance of the

interview to be conducted with the two women.

Point 19

Mr Arnesen wanted the position clarified as to why TVNZ approached the mother's

letter with cynicism, and asked what the subsequent events were which confirmed that


He said that both women were diagnosed manic depressives with long psychiatric

illnesses and had a record of making complaints similar to that which they had made

about him. Mrs Richardson also, he advised, befriended them and coerced them into

telling their stories.

Mr Arnesen said he had found it difficult to accept that the women never took their

complaints to the appropriate authorities, and yet were willing to talk for the cameras.

Point 20

Mr Arnesen said he was aware of Mr Townsend's letter regarding excommunication.

He did not know why Mr Townsend wrote it.

Point 21

Mr Arnesen disputed that the letter of 16 August 1996 from his solicitors was

relevant. He believed that the letter was orchestrated by Mrs Richardson so she could

make it look like she was "onto something."

Point 22

Mr Arnesen did not consider the action taken by the police was a "police raid". He

believed viewers had been misled.

Point 23

Mr Arnesen said that TVNZ had never requested to see the Church books. Mr

Arnesen said that Michael Flanagan was not a credible person for TVNZ to have


Point 24

Mr Arnesen refuted TVNZ's statement which said:

"the programme fairly and truthfully canvasses an issue of public importance."

He said the programme was neither fair nor truthful. He then reiterated his position

that the tapes played as evidence of the adulterous relationship on the programme

were mixed by Mrs Richardson.

In summary, Mr Arnesen wrote:

If I had done anything like what was portrayed on the 60 Minutes programme

I would have resigned my position immediately and left town or even the

country. I repeat that truth is my defence, and although extreme damage has

been done to my reputation, I am confident of being cleared of all accusations.

TVNZ's Response to Mr Arnesen's Letter – 14 May 1997

TVNZ responded briefly on each of the points made by Mr Arnesen. However on

points 5, 11, 12, 15, 20 and 24, it had no further comment.

Point 1

TVNZ restated that Ian Wishart's interview was used in context. According to TVNZ

it was not aired earlier because of insufficient information.

Point 2

TVNZ advised there was no innuendo.


Point 3

TVNZ believed it had given Mr Arnesen ample opportunity to respond to new


Point 4

TVNZ advised that it did ask to see Mr Arnesen's diary. It reiterated earlier

comments made and said that it considered four days ample advance notice for Mr

Arnesen to give an on camera reaction to the allegations made about him by the two


Point 6

TVNZ advised that the documents provided showed that Mr Arnesen admitted

intimidating Mrs Richardson.

Point 7

TVNZ said it was not its role to try anyone.

Point 8.

TVNZ admitted that Mr Arnesen was technically correct on this point.

Point 9

The President of the ICFM confirmed to TVNZ that Mr Arnesen remained suspended

from his organisation.

Point 10

TVNZ said that Mr Arnesen had produced no evidence of the mark he referred to.

Point 13

Mr Arnesen was given every opportunity to respond to allegations according to


Point 14

TVNZ advised that a complaint about the fire remained with the Police.

Point 16

TVNZ said it stood by its comments in the programme.

Point 17

TVNZ disagreed.

Point 18

See Point 4.

Point 19

TVNZ had contacted both the women interviewed on the programme, who confirmed

the truth of their statements. TVNZ noted that although Mr Arnesen alleged that

they had made "false allegations against others", he had provided no evidence.

Point 21

TVNZ considered the letter of 16 August to be very relevant and disputed the claim

that Mrs Richardson could have orchestrated it. It considered this suggestion to be in

the area of "fantasy".

Point 22

To justify its use of the term "police raid", TVNZ made the point that the police

executed a search warrant.

Point 23

TVNZ advised that the church books were requested, but access was declined by Mr


TVNZ made further comments in respect of comments about Mr Flanagan's integrity.

Mr Arnesen's Response to TVNZ's Letter – 21 May 1997

Mr Arnesen commented on TVNZ's letter in terms of the points made in his letter of

20 March 1997.

Point 1

Mr Arnesen asserted that TVNZ had wilfully destroyed the tapes of his interview

with Ian Wishart and had been negligent in their responsibility in not retaining the


Mr Arnesen enclosed a copy of a letter from his solicitor dated 6 April 1995 which

advised TVNZ that he intended taking defamation proceedings and that were it to

proceed with a programme, it might prejudice the legal proceedings. Mr Arnesen

asserted that this was the reason TVNZ did not screen the original programme and

not, as TVNZ stated, through "insufficient information".

Point 2

Mr Arnesen reiterated that the public had been misinformed about him because of the

biased stance taken by TVNZ in the programme.

Point 3

Mr Arnesen said that he had responded to all the questions put to him, even though he

said he had limited time in which to do so but that those responses (other than the Ian

Wishart interview) were in writing.

Point 4

Mr Arnesen reiterated that TVNZ had never requested to see the diary which, he said,

was a church diary and not a personal diary. He also said that the diary was returned

to him 16 days before he withdrew legal action. He enclosed a letter from his

solicitors as evidence of this. He said it was very important to note that the only

reason the police took his diary was because of Mrs Richardson's false claim that her

telephone number was in the diary.

Mr Arnesen advised that he had been given only three days to respond to the claims

made by the women, not the four days indicated by TVNZ.

Point 5

Mr Arnesen maintained that there was no careful and thorough investigation

undertaken for the programme.

Point 6

Mr Arnesen advised that TVNZ was incorrect on this point.

Point 7

Mr Arnesen agreed with TVNZ's statement that "it is not our role to try anyone".

He believed TVNZ should now be accountable.

Point 8

Mr Arnesen was happy with TVNZ's retraction.

Point 9

Enclosed with Mr Arnesen's letter was a tape of a conversation with Mr Joe Hurunui

of ICFM which, he said, was self explanatory on the issue of his suspension from that


Point 10

Mr Arnesen said that TVNZ simply chose not to use the information about "the

mark" he had provided to them.

Point 11

By leaving out information provided by him to TVNZ, Mr Arnesen said that not only

had it "tried me" but also "hung me."

Point 12

Mr Arnesen reiterated that he believed that Mrs Richardson's other affair should also

have been aired.

Point 13

The reporter had not given him the opportunity to comment on all allegations, Mr

Arnesen said. He referred specifically to comments made by Rod Collins, about

whom he had commented to Ian Wishart, but that portion was not aired.

Point 14

Mr Arnesen advised that TVNZ did not screen the fact that the Fire Department

report on the fire showed electrical failure as the cause. Instead, viewers were led to

assume by the programme that he had set fire to the restaurant.

Point 15

Mr Arnesen reiterated that he had never held the position of Treasurer.

Point 16

Mr Arnesen said he awaited the result of his complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.

Point 17

The evidence, Mr Arnesen advised, spoke for itself.

Point 18

Refer to point 4.

Point 19

Mr Arnesen was also unaware of the person about whom the women had made

allegations but maintained he had provided TVNZ with enough information for this to

be discovered.

Point 20

Mr Arnesen said attempts were still being made to contact Mr Townsend.

Point 21

Mr Arnesen considered the letter of 16 August 1995 from his solicitor to Mrs

Richardson's solicitor to be immaterial to the issue of the reasons for discontinuing


Point 22

Mr Arnesen stood by his assertion that the search of his house was not a "police


Point 23

Mr Arnesen reiterated that TVNZ had never once requested access to the church


Point 24

Mr Arnesen considered that his comment that there were 118 statements/sentences in

the programme, of which 76 were used negatively against him, should have been given

some consideration in TVNZ's consideration of the complaint.

In summary, Mr Arnesen advised:

I appreciate that my complaint has been long and drawn out and that the

Authority has been very patient. I have not in any way sought to lengthen the

process by continued correspondence, I have only wanted to present the facts

as they are.

Further Correspondence

In a letter of 6 May 1997, the Broadcasting Standards Authority requested the

unedited tapes for the 60 Minutes programme from TVNZ.

In its response of 8 May 1997, TVNZ advised that it was unable to provide the tapes

as they no longer existed.

Mr Arnesen made comments on TVNZ's response to the Authority in a letter dated

10 May 1997.