Former Cape Times editor to lodge fresh complaint

2016-05-11 16:53
Alide Dasnois outside the Labour Court. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

Alide Dasnois outside the Labour Court. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

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Johannesburg - Former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois intends to lodge a complaint with the Press Ombudsman following two articles published about the settlement of the case between herself and Independent Newspapers, her lawyers said on Wednesday.

This followed the withdrawal of the unfair dismissal case against them by Dasnois, following an agreement reached.

In a statement on Dasnois's behalf, Jason Whyte from Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc, said the Cape Times had carried an article under the heading "Independent Media vindicated as Dasnois settles" on its front page on Tuesday, as well as a second article headed "Failed to have Madiba's death on front page".

Whyte said the crux of the article was where the author claimed that Dasnois "has attempted to conclude the matter in return for a substantial financial payout. We have constantly rejected this and believed that the matter of Dasnois decision on the night of December 5 had to be ventilated an open court".

The paper also claimed that, because Dasnois "falsely" sought to depict her claim as a case about press freedom and editorial prerogative, this made it "even more important [for INMSA] to [try] the matter in court".

Whyte said the Cape Times, however, pointed out that the case was indeed (inexplicably) settled by an agreement.

"INMSA was obviously a party to that agreement, but the reader is left to somehow conclude that INMSA – although insistent that this case would never be settled by INMSA out of court as our client has no valid case – somehow inexplicably agreed to settle this case in the face of an invented claim brought by an undeserving gold-digger," he said.

"What the article fails to explain is that an unfair dismissal case of this nature brought by an employee cannot be settled in this fashion unless the employer offers the employee [i e the one seeking 'a substantial financial pay out'] terms that can persuade her and her lawyers that she may be better off by not proceeding with case."

This is what happened, said Whyte.

Dasnois's claim

There was nothing preventing Independent Newspapers from making no settlement offer it  believed that Dasnois's claim had little or no merit.

"If they wanted this, why did they instruct their lawyers to settle this case to stop a trial in open court in which our client was seeking a pay-­out for injury to her dignity?" he questioned.

Whyte said Dasnois sought compensation because of false allegations of racism and disrespect for former president Nelson Mandela, which had been made by her employer.

In the settlement agreement filed in the Labour Court on Friday, Independent Newspapers conceded that Dasnois's decision was not intended in any way to show disrespect for Mandela.  

They also acknowledged that she was not motivated by racism. 

However, following the settlement, they slammed her decision again.

"After informing a court that they agreed to end the dispute with Dasnois they immediately recanted with a view to painting a picture of themselves as being vigorously opposed to any settlement and then being 'vindicated' in court -­ when no such thing had happened," said Whyte.

"The code for members of the Press Council provides that allowing commercial, political, personal or other non-­professional considerations to influence or slant reporting constitutes serious misconduct on the part of a news group and our client will be lodging a complaint with the Press Ombudsman."

Read more on:    cape times  |  independent newspapers  |  alide dasnois  |  cape town  |  media

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