11 Nov 2013

Tamihere and Jackson taken off air

9:43 pm on 11 November 2013

Two talkback hosts heavily criticised for an interview about about an Auckland sex ring involving a group of teenage boys are off the air for the rest of the year.

Police say they have been monitoring the west Auckland group of 17- and 18-year-olds who call themselves Roast Busters since 2011, but have not been able to lay charges because of a lack of evidence, despite one of the girls laying a formal complaint.

Last week John Tamihere and Willie Jackson from RadioLive interviewed a young woman about the group's boasting online of having sex with drunk under-age girls.

The pair have come under fire for the interview which included asking the caller questions such as how free and easy young people are. They also asked how old she was when she first had sex and told her that girls shouldn't be drinking.

Advertisers soon started boycotting their station, which was then forced to make their daily afternoon show commercial-free.

At what would usually have been the start of the Willie and JT Show on Monday John Tamihere told listeners that he and Willie Jackson would not be on air again in 2013 and would take the next couple of weeks to review things.

Mr Tamihere told listeners the pair do not condone rape and did not intend to blame victims. He said they regret the impact their comments had on their wives, children, grandchildren and communities. They have also apologised to staff.

RadioLive owner MediaWorks said they have not been stood down, but an agreement has been reached. It is refusing to say if they would remain on full pay.

Blogger Giovanni Tiso successfully urged advertisers to boycott the RadioLive show and on Monday said he was stunned that the hosts have been taken off air.

Mr Tiso said the move follows a strong indication from the public that the language Mr Tamihere and Mr Jackson used in their questioning is no longer tolerated.

Ruth Amato is helping to organise a march against the handling of complaints against the teen sex group and said that the comments were shocking.

"They were very flippant and they seemed to just think it was some kind of joke or just, you know, teenage girls being a bit silly. And that is actually a common misconception that people have about rape, is that somehow the survivor is to blame for it."

Some advertisers are continuing to boycott RadioLive. Yellow said the departure of John Tamihere and Willie Jackson does not change anything, while Vodafone said it was too early to say whether it would return.

Other advertisers who took action were Telecom, Freeview and ANZ. They said they are reviewing the situation. AA Insurance said it had no further comment to make.

Govt agencies and police to investigate

Government agencies and police districts are joining forces to investigate the teen sex ring.

Police have appointed Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus to lead the Operation Clover team which includes members from agencies including Child, Youth and Family, the Ministry of Education and the Accident Compensation Corporation.

Officers from Counties Manukau and Auckland City, and external counselling services, will also work within the team.

Call for changes in justice system

The Wellington Rape Crisis Agency on Monday added its voice to calls for changes in the justice system to better serve victims of sexual violence.

Manager Natalie Gousmet said an estimated 90% of rapes are not reported, and of those that are, just 12% result in a conviction. She said a Law Commission review of possible changes to make court action less traumatic and more effective for victims should be followed up as a priority.

Ms Gousmet believed that Auckland police should have acted sooner in the case involving the group of young men.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei also said she wants action restarted on last year's Law Commission report. She said after the horrible case of the Auckland teenage sex ring there is a real willingness in New Zealand to make some positive changes.