Phillip Dexter vs YOU magazine

Complainant: Phillip Dexter

Article: I’ll fight for my little Maya

Date: 06 March 2012

Respondent: You Magazine

Complaint
Mr Phillip Dexter, a well-known politician, who describes himself as a public figure, complains that YOU magazine published “outrageous allegations”… in the form of a letter to the editor by his ex-wife Dr Neeta Misra.
Dexter writes: “YOU published a letter from my ex-wife in which she made a number of false, libellous, defamatory and insulting statements. I wish to have the right to correct these. YOU is refusing….I wish the Ombud to rule on YOU’s refusal to give me the right to respond to these lies.”
Analysis
On December 15, 2011, YOU published an interview with Dexter headlined I’ll fight for my little Maya.
Dexter’s ex-wife Misra complained to the Press Ombudsman because she had not been given a chance to respond to some of the allegations made by Dexter in the interview.
After careful consideration, this office ordered the magazine to publish the letter setting out her side of the story, but staying away from issues that were still to be decided by the courts. The letter was published on February 2, 2012.
Before that ruling, Dr Misra provided this office with copies of their divorce settlement, Dexter’s submissions to the court on a former girlfriend and other documents and the Ombudsman was satisfied that she had a story to tell and should have been given a chance to tell it in the original article. As expected, this version differed from that of Dexter.
Having cast the first stone, Dexter wants a chance to throw another.
If the magazine allowed Dexter this second chance, his wife would most probably also demand another in an unending spiral. The editor has correctly decided to draw the line and tell the couple they have had their say – the rest will be played out in courts.
The editor of the magazine, Linda Pietersen, has promised Dexter a follow-up story once there are fresh developments in the matter, and that is reasonable.
Finding
The complaint is dismissed.
Appeal
Please note that our Complaints Procedures lays down that within seven days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.