Press & publishing | Special report: media law | Special report: press and privacy
Watchdog responds to call for privacy law
Monday June 16, 2003
Press complaints commission chairman Sir Chistopher Meyer today said the regulator was a "first rate" defender of "freedom of speech, the lifeblood of democracy", following the call by MPs for a privacy law to curb media intrusion.
Although Sir Christopher admitted the PCC was "not perfect" he said it was not obliged to accept anything the culture, media and sport select committee report had recommended.
The committee's report, published today, said the enshrinement into English law of the Human Rights Act had effectively "sown the seed" of privacy legislation and said the situation was in such a mess that legally binding remedies were needed.
It recommended a series of measures to safeguard privacy, including fines for offending newspapers, an annual new league table of newspapers showing how well-behaved each title has been, and front page apologies.
But Sir Christopher immediately mounted a robust defence of the PCC, saying recent court cases, including the Catherine Zeta-Jones v Hello trial, repeatedly recognised that privacy and the press was a matter for the PCC.
"I welcome the fact that the select committee recognises that overall standards of press behaviour, the code and the performance of the PCC have improved over the last decade," said Sir Christopher.
"The PCC is not perfect. But it works better through 'self-regulation plus' - a commission in which tough-minded lay members outnumber editors - than any alternative on offer."
He continued: "My colleagues and I will of course read what the select committee has had to say in detail. It is important to remember, however, that as an independent body - independent from newspapers, politicians, lawyers and any other interest group - the PCC is not obliged to accept any of them."
Sir Christopher said that the PCC was committed to serving the British public with a "first class, free fast and fair" service and to raising the standard of press reporting.
"Behind these commitments is a deeper one: to freedom of speech, the lifeblood of democracy," he added.
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06.05.2003: Meyer outlines PCC reforms
01.04.2003: Jowell: PCC needs a 'fresh look'
25.03.2003: PCC must clean up its act, say MPs
04.03.2003: Ministers back press self regulation
11.03.2003: Morgan joins defence of PCC
06.03.2003: Dacre: Kelner 'betrayed' the press
05.03.2003: Fleet Street bosses turn on Kelner
04.03.2003: Kelner calls for Ofcom press role
26.02.2003: Rich would abuse privacy law, says Daily Mail editor
25.02.2003: Dacre: 'have faith in us'
25.02.2003: Dacre lashes out at 'censorship'
25.02.2003: Dacre makes case for self-regulation
09.06.2003: Leader: Cox case is bad news for the PCC
13.03.2003: Now editor handed PCC post
30.01.2003: Observer editor joins PCC
13.03.2003: Call for inquiry into police payments by press
12.03.2003: Sun editor admits paying police officers for stories
16.06.2003: Robert Thomson defends the PCC
07.06.2003: Roy Greenslade: PCC is a toothless tiger
30.03.2003: Les Hinton: Malice in Wonderland
24.03.2003: Chris Bryant: This watchdog needs teeth
12.03.2003: Simon Hoggart: Mirror boss in stereotyping shocker
07.03.2003: Leader: Government isn't poised to gag the press
27.01.2003: Roy Greenslade: The hounds are house-trained
03.03.2003: Mary Riddell talks to Guy Black
07.02.2003: Editors back PCC code
09.01.2003: PCC warns over celebrity privacy
The big cases: Douglases v Hello!, Naomi Campbell and more
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