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New Zealand Herald

Cancer Inquiry – Cancer Editorial – East Timor – Baby Lawsuit – TV Wars – Maori PHDs – Rotorua Murder – War Hero – Ansett Strike

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CANCER INQUIRY: Hundreds of women are feared to be developing cervical cancer, after health authorities' revelations that Gisborne pathologist Dr Michael Bottrill misdiagnosed 82 per cent of seriously abnormal tests. The scale of his misreading of cervical smear slides has forced the Government to open a ministerial inquiry and prepare law changes to prevent a repeat scare.

CANCER INQUIRY: The woman who fought a four-year legal action against Gisborne pathologist Dr Michael Bottrill was weary and relieved last night - and not surprised that an official inquiry indicates hundreds of misread cancer tests in the area. "Jane" began her battle for justice after fighting for her life. She says the battle has taken its toll.

CANCER INQUIRY - EDITORIAL: The apprehension of thousands of women in and around Gisborne today can be imagined. A full inquiry into the work of a local pathologist, now retired, finds a truly appalling number of incorrect cancer test results. After checking just 5000 of the cervical smears read by Dr Michael Bottrill, the inquiry has discovered he picked up only 28 of 157 slides showing serious abnormalities. The inquiry for the Health Funding Authority has still to check a further 20,000 tests read by Dr Bottrill between 1991 and 1996. But there is now sufficient cause for alarm for the minister, Wyatt Creech, to order a wider investigation of the national screening programme.

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EAST TIMOR: The violence of East Timor threatens to spill over into the volatile West Timorese capital, Kupang, where resentment is mounting against abusive behaviour by armed militia groups. Jamie Isbister, the international programmes manager for the National Council of Churches in Australia, who has recently returned from West Timor said yesterday.

BABY LAWSUIT: An Auckland couple whose son was born severely brain damaged are suing doctors and hospital authorities for more than $1 million. Mitsuko and Wilson Owen are seeking $400,000 for nervous shock, mental distress and anguish resulting from the birth of their son Nicholas at National Women's Hospital on April 14, 1993.

TV WARS: The squabble between TVNZ and Sky over shared programmes is escalating into a seemingly vindictive row, leaving viewers scrambling to find popular shows. In retaliation for Sky's choice of TV3 to screen replays of rugby and cricket games, TVNZ yesterday gave notice that it was cancelling its deal allowing Sky to replay its news and Holmes. Within hours, Sky announced that it would take TV3's news instead.

MAORI PHDS: Until yesterday, Maori PhDs were few and far between, with fewer than 10 capped in the history of Auckland University. But yesterday, three emerged from the Auckland Town Hall and stood arm-in-arm in the sunshine, the most Maori to gain doctorates at a single graduation.

ROTORUA MURDER: Murder accused Christopher Schuler asked a friend how to commit suicide after his business associate's death because he had "done a bad thing." Crown witness Margaret Janetzke, a long-time friend of Schuler's, gave evidence at the second day of a Rotorua District Court depositions hearing into the death of Auckland peanut merchant Mille Vukotic.

WAR HERO: Prime Minister Jenny Shipley has rejected a plea for the posthumous recognition of Second World War hero Sergeant Haane Manahi with New Zealand's highest medal, following a revamp of the awards system. Mrs Shipley yesterday unveiled new gallantry and bravery awards replacing the British awards system but retaining the Victoria Cross as the highest award for gallantry in war and war-like situations.

ANSETT STRIKE: Foreign pilots, apart from Australians, will be barred by immigration rules from flying to Ansett New Zealand's aid. The pilots would not meet the work permit requirements needed to take up short-term contracts during the lockout because Ansett pilots were still available for work, said Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere, in reply to a query from Labour's Lianne Dalziel.

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