Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Toothless PCC


I formally complained about an article in "The Independent" that was prejudicial to the forthcoming case concerning PC Simon Harwood.

This is the reply received.

“The complainant was concerned that the article contravened a notice from the Department of Public Prosecution requesting that nothing was published that would prejudice PC Simon Harwood’s trial.
The Commission made clear that columnists are entitled to express their views, provided that they are clearly distinguished from fact. While it acknowledged the complainant’s concern that the article was in contravention of the notice issued the DPP, it was not for the Commission to enforce the terms of such a notice or to establish what information would be likely to prejudice the trial. Rather, the Commission was required to enforce the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice. Given that the complainant had not specified any inaccuracies in the article, the Commission could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.”

In other words, the PCC acknowledges the contravention but can do nothing because of its terms of reference.

This surely establishes the need for greater regulation of the press. Until recently I would have battled against further controls. However the press’s gross abuse of its “light touch” regulation means that it is time for formal controls enforceable in law.

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