Press watchdog not 'toothless', says chairman

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Press watchdog not 'toothless', says chairman

Post by Get'emGonçalo on Wed 19 May - 22:11

By Stephen Adams
Published: 5:55PM BST 19 May 2010

In February the House of Commons' culture select committee criticised the press watchdog for a "lack of teeth" over how it dealt with complaints about the reporting of the girl's possible abduction from Praia da Luz in Portugal three years ago.

Some of the wilder stories, which falsely claimed friends of the McCanns had lied about her disappearance, led to legal actions against several newspapers.

A number of MPs want statutory regulation of the industry.
But Baroness Buscombe said it was a "fallacy" that the PCC was toothless.
In an open letter to accompany the PCC's annual review, she said a free press was a central part of a healthy democracy and "the undesirability of a statutory press regulator is very clear".
She added: "One can't help but notice that the principle of self-regulation has taken a knock recently in reporting of the Parliamentary expenses scandal and the banking crisis.
"It would be wholly wrong, however, to draw lessons from those unfortunate episodes for regulation of the press."
Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday morning, she added: "We are tough, we are independent of the press, but most importantly, we are independent of the state."
Dismissing accusations the PCC had presided over a "whitewash" when looking into claims that illegal phone tapping was rife in tabloid journalism, she said it could only act on "material evidence" that its enquiries failed to find.
"If there was a whiff of any continuing activity in this regard, or anything like it, then we would be on it like a ton of bricks," she said.


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