I am Murray Hill, a personal friend of Bernard Shapiro and he asked me to issue the following statement on his behalf.
On Q&A in May this year Te Ururoa Flavell spoke to Paul Holmes about the Uruwera Four and made the case that they were treated severly because they were Maori. From the transcript of the program he singles out one Bernard Shapiro.
“And the last one, Paul, is that about two years ago a gentleman by the name of Bernard Shapiro, he had unlawful possession of two military style semi-automatic rifles, thunderflash explosives, power gel explosives, eight sticks, two military flares, a smoke grenade, a grenade launcher, an anti-personnel mine; he pleaded not guilty. Hes found guilty on seven of the eight charges. And what does he get? He gets asked to pay $5000 to the St Johns Ambulance. Youve gotta measure it up on those sorts of terms.”
There are a few problems with Flavell s account. Shapiro was found guilty by technicality and was discharged without conviction. Unlike the Uruwera Four who were found guilty and convicted. Flavell also made the comparison or possession of items with actually using explosives and firearms. Flaval also claimed a Shapiro had a grenade launcher which he did not. Flavell is untouchable for what are at the very least factually inaccurate statements by virtue of parliament privilege.
The following day on their radio show Willie and JT picked up Flavells comments and expanded on them claiming machine guns and made numerous personal attacks on Shapiro while asserting that he had been treated lightly because he was white. When Mr Shapiro called the station himself in an effort to correct their inaccuracies both men abused and ridiculed Mr Shapiro calling him a lair while comparing him to Hannibal Lectre.
Their actions were unprofessional and well outside any reasonable standards journalistic ethics. They abused their power as media personalities to further a political agenda of supporting four people convicted of arms offences by claiming race was a factor in their sentencing. Their behaviour led to a numbers of people calling the station to complain and a Broadcasting Standards Authority complaint. The station itself defended their actions and rejected a request for an apology. However, yesterday the Broadcasting Standards Authority complaint was upheld and Mr Shapiro was vindicated. Coincidently the appeals of the Uruwera Four were rejected on the same day.
In addition to the above I would add that Mr Shapiro is pleased by the finding and has no other comment to make. Any questions should be directed to his lawyer Jonathan Eaton.
I will also make the observations that These three men – I must Include Mr Flaval – have attempted to support people who did clearly commit serious offences with Tama Iti having a history of discharging firearms in public with a man who has no criminal record but was chosen as a example by them because of the colour of his skin.
Had any of them made the slightest effort to find out about the man they were attacking they would have gotten an entirely different picture from the one they constructed. Bernie Shapiro has served in New Zealand army, I pinned his NZDSM on him myself shortly before my wedding earlier this year. During the Christchurch earthquake Bernie set up a hot food and drink station at his home for his neighbours and then worked with Sam Johnson and the Student Army, specifically to bring aid to Aranui – a predominantly Polynesian/Maori area that was being neglected. Bernie did this using his own willies jeep to get into the area where other vehicles would not go until he was incapacitated by exhaustion and made ill for weeks from silt inhalation. Bernie was the first contact from outside for many people in and was interviewed by ABC Australia as a result. Bernie has yet to be appropriately acknowledged for these efforts in my opinion.
I, like many of Bernies loyal friends, was appalled at his being used as a political toy by Flavell and the subsequent abuse by Willie and JT. One is immune to any kind of fallout by virtue of his exulted position, the other two have been found to have breached the standards of their profession. At an absolute minimum I would expect to see three apologies. Assuming any of these men had any degree of class.