Controversial Lion Man Craig Busch was the author of his own misfortune by refusing to appear on camera to reply to a Carte Blanche expose which accused him of animal cruelty, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission has ruled.
The controversial reality television star, who runs a wild life park near Rustenburg called Jabula Big Cat Sanctuary, lodged a complaint with the BCCSA after the investigative programme in July last year aired an expose suggesting that he was not the lover of big cats and conservationist he claimed to be but in fact ill-treated his animals and used them to advance his fame.
Busch became famous as New Zealand’s Lion Man through a 2004 television series filmed at Whangerei’s Zion Wildlife Gardens.
According to Africa Geographic he and his mother Patricia have been involved in a lengthy legal wrangle over control of the park.
He has also been involved in a bitter legal wrangle with Thinus Rautenbach about the land on which the sanctuary is situated.
Busch complained that Carte Blanche was part of a smear campaign against him, did not make reasonable efforts to fairly present opposing points of view, violated his dignity and privacy by secretly filming him and did not give him a fair chance to defend himself.
He also complained bitterly about the programme referring to his criminal record in New Zealand for crimes involving violence, saying according to New Zealand Law he had a “clean slate” because he was never sentenced to incarceration.
Carte Blanche maintained it was within its rights to air the programme in the public interest and stood by its contents.
The Tribunal found that the producers had made a reasonable effort to present Busch’s version of the facts and to allow him to reply.
They said Busch’s refusal to appear on camera had caused him to miss the opportunity to present his case and he was the author of his own misfortune.
They found found that Busch’s right to privacy and dignity, being that of a public figure, was overridden by a legitimate public interest and found that Carte Blanche and M-Net had not contravened the BCCSA’s code of conduct.
The Tribunal said it was reasonable to assume that, at least in New Zealand, Busch had lost his reputation and it was not a contravention of the broadcasting code to say that he did or to reveal his criminal record.