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PCC’s credibility under attack

The Press Complaints Commission is once again under attack for its structure and effectiveness as a self-regulatory body.

Last night the Guardian reported how Sir Ken Macdonald, ­visiting professor of law at the LSE and the former director of public prosecutions, had called for “all credible media organisations” to withdraw from the “farcical” Press ­Complaints Commission (a plea which was made by Geoffrey Robertson QC last year).

The event for editors and lawyers also featured Max Clifford, former Formula 1 chief Max Mosley, former TV presenter Anna Ford, the editors of the Guardian and the Financial Times, and the deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. The Guardian also reported:

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor, said the credibility of the PCC was “clinging by its fingertips” and that recent investigations had been “embarrassing”. The PCC’s current review should work out whether it has the capacity to be a regulator or a mediator, he said.

It’s timely then, to compare Rusbridger’s quotes from last night, with Stephen Abell’s comments this week, in his first media interview since becoming director of the PCC:

Abell told Journalism.co.uk that he didn’t believe Rusbridger’s resignation from the PCC code committee Editors’ Code of Practice Committee weakened the body at all:

Alan Rusbridger has said it [the code committee] does a good job (…) I think these arguments happens within industries but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to move on from that. I don’t think it weakens the PCC in any way that Alan is leaving an industry body that he was a member of for a while. You don’t have every editor on the code committee anyway (…) I think it’s tremendous merit that Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian was on the code committee for as long as he was.

Journalism.co.uk’s interview with Stephen Abell (who took over as PCC director in December 2009):

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  • http://www.pcc.org.uk PCC

    It is not correct to refer to the “PCC Code Committee”.

    The Editors’ Code of Practice Committee (http://www.editorscode.org.uk/) is a separate body and operates independently of the PCC. Hence Stephen Abell’s reference to it as an “industry body”.

    The Editors’ Code Committee writes the newspaper and periodical industry’s Code of Practice and the PCC independently enforces it; following the normal practice in self-regulation that industry contributes to, and co-operates with, the regulatory system.

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Judith Townend

    Thank you – I’ve corrected the text to make the distinction clear.

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