Thursday, 23 April 2009 9:33 AM

NZ Reporter Defends Samoa Criminal Report in Affidavit

TVNZ reporter, Barbara Dreaver, whose report on Samoa's alleged drugs and guns culture has caused controversy in and out of the island nation, has denied allegations that her story was staged and that the individuals in the report were actors and misled about the story.

As reported by the Samoa Observer, it was sent a sworn affidavit by Ms. Dreaver who stated, "to me it would be completely unconscionable and unethical to stage manage material for a story, and I would never do such a thing."

According to the report, One News Editor, Paul Patrick wrote, ""TVNZ continues to stand by the accuracy of the story and to reinforce how seriously we view this, we have taken the unusual step of having Journalist, Barbara Dreaver swear an affidavit (attached)."

Below is the attached affidavit as reported by the Samoa Observer:

I, Barbara Helen Dreaver of Auckland, Journalist, swear
1. I am employed by Television New Zealand Limited ("TVNZ") as the Pacific Correspondence for One News. I have been a journalist for 19 years, the last seven of which have been in my current role. Over the 19 years I have worked in the Pacific region.

2. I wish to respond to certain allegations that have been made about my story concerning guns and drugs trading in Samoa, broadcast on Monday, 6 April 2009.

3. I understand that Samoan police have alleged that some of the people who appeared in my story were "actors" who were asked by TVNZ to act like gangsters and drug dealers. It has also been alleged that TVNZ supplied alcohol to them, and asked them to smoke a cigarette on camera as if it was marijuana.

4. I categorically deny these allegations. I was accompanied for this story by a camera operator and a security specialist who also confirm that the allegations are completely false.

5. No part of this story was staged in any way. One News did not ask, coerce or suggest that anyone who appeared in the story to act like gangsters or drug dealers. The group of young men who appeared in the story were openly smoking marijuana. We could smell that it was marijuana and they even offered me some (I declined). They were a group of young men who openly told Ones News on camera that they deal in drugs in the area. They chose not to cover their identities.

6. We did not tell the group we were a Hollywood film crew, nor did we give them any alcohol to convince them to b
e interviewed, as alleged. We explained who we were and were we were from. This was also clear from "One News" signage on the camera and other equipment we carried.

7. From my observation, there are organised groups involved in the smuggling of drugs and guns in Samoa. One News will not be revealing its sources or location of these groups, or of anyone who chose to hide their identity.

8. Neither the One News Team nor the security guard Herman Loto Sakaria received any payment from anyone involved in the story. Nor we have been selling the stories to organisations and individuals as I understand it has been alleged.

9. In my work, I strive to meet the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. To me it would be completely unconscionable and unethical to stage manage material for a story, and I would never do such a thing.

Sworn before Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, Stephen Chen, on 22 April 2009.

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