In the latest public debate surrounding regulation of the UK press, Sir Christopher Meyer, former chairman of the UK Press Complaints Commission (PCC), today argued that the current self-regulatory system was ‘robust, quick and satisfying.’
Meyer, who has now been replaced as PCC chair by Peta Buscombe, was a guest on today’s Daily Politics show on BBC Two, and said that the process worked for many reasons – the body’s discreet handling of complaints was just one, he said.
Meyer defended the PCC’s role, using the fact that they received a record number of complaints from newspaper readers last year as evidence that the principle of self-regulation was firmly established in the industry.
He added that the number of complaints to the PCC had doubled during his tenure.
During the debate, however, Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University in London, said that the body was not advertised widely enough. He said: “Most of the public aren’t aware of the PCC, and the newspapers certainly don’t publicise it.”
The show’s presenter, Andrew Neil, asked Meyer where the PCC was during the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Neil also asked why the body didn’t do more to protect Kate and Gerry McCann from the accusations made by newspapers.
Meyer said that Gerry McCann felt that the publicity and coverage of his daughter’s disappearance would aid the search for his daughter. “We told them we were there for them if they wanted help, but they were too busy,” Meyer said.
He added that the McCanns were focused on finding Madeleine at the time.
Greenslade argued that a PCC statement should have been issued at the time, warning the newspapers to adhere to the PCC code of practice.