Opinion: “The PCC – providing a fair means of resolving complaints, Part 1” Jonathan Coad

2 04 2010

In this four part post, Jonathan Coad considers the nature and future of the Press Complaints Commission.  The material in this post forms his submission to the committee currently undertaking a “Governance Review” of the PCC.

In his book “The Insider” Piers Morgan (who edited both the News of the World and the Mirror) told us that the press was becoming progressively more powerful and aggressive. In his evidence to the Culture Media and Sport Committee on 25 September 2003, Max Clifford stated that “Paul Dacre is virtually a law unto himself.”  In a 2007 speech, Judge Loucaides, then a judge of the European Court of Human Rights (the “ECHR”) set out the problem from a 21st Century perspective:-

“One should not lose sight of the fact that the mass media are nowadays commercial enterprises with uncontrolled and virtually unlimited strength, interested more in profitable, flashy news than in disseminating proper information to the public, in controlling government abuse or in fulfilling other idealistic objectives. And although they may be achieving such objectives incidentally, accidentally or occasionally, even deliberately, they should be subject to certain restraint out of respect for the truth and for the dignity of individuals. […] Furthermore they should remain legally accountable to the persons concerned for any false defamatory allegations. Like any power, the mass media cannot be accountable only to themselves. A contrary position would lead to arbitrariness and impunity, which undermine democracy itself.”

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