Red-faced RNZ bosses apologise to Parliament

By Talisa Kupenga

Radio New Zealand (RNZ) bosses have appeared to set the record straight and apologise to a select committee saying they feel "foolish" and "embarrassed" at having inadvertently misled them over the nature of a meeting between the broadcast minister and former head of news Carol Hirschfeld in December. 

RNZ Chairman Richard Griffin says, "Quite honestly it's embarrassing for us but we're in a position that we feel we have to explain ourselves".

RNZ was left to set the record straight after Hirschfeld resigned over a week ago after admitting she repeatedly mislead her bosses about her planned breakfast meeting with Minister for Broadcasting Clare Curran.

Griffin says, "It's obvious that the problem is not the meeting, it's the problem of deception.  The action taken once we were aware of the facts is inevitable".

National's Broadcast Spokesperson Melissa Lee first asked about the meeting back in December.  She says both sides of the story do not add up.

"What we need to get to the bottom of is why the stories are different and we need to find out the truth," says Lee.

Curran says "I don' think there are differences between the two accounts.  What I tabled in Parliament this week in terms of the contact between my office and RNZ and contact between the chair and myself I think pretty much stacks up".

Lee has requested a message left by the minister on Griffin's phone prior to the reappearance.

"The minister has actually suggested one account and the chairperson has a very different account about what that conversation was all about so when we have a recording we will actually get to the bottom of it,” Lee says.

The minister disputes by leaving the message she was trying to muzzle RNZ.

"Absolutely not... What I thought and what my advice was was the correct thing to do and so that's why I suggested a letter be put into that committee by 1pm that day if the chair couldn't appear in person".

Lee expects to receive the recording next week.