By Mary Stevens
In a show of strength, the five national daily broadsheet editors have written to Press Complaints Commission chairman Sir Christopher Meyer protesting at last week’s adjudication against The Guardian.
The letter asks for clause 17 of the Code of Practice, which deals with payment to criminals, to be reviewed. This was the clause which The Guardian was found to have breached, and they feel it is ambiguous. The letter also requested that the code committee takes legal advice as to whether the clause is compatible with the Human Rights Act.
The adjudication found that The Guardian was wrong to pay prisoner John Williams £720, its “standard journalistic fee”, for a diary detailing his encounters with Jeffrey Archer while in prison.
In the same week, it was leaked to The Guardian that the PCC was to exonerate the News of the World for paying £10,000 to convicted criminal Florim Gashi. That adjudication has now been delayed following intervention from the Attorney-General.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said last week that he was “astonished” by the PCC ruling and that he would have little choice but to leave the body if it found another column in the newspaper about prison life, for which the writer is paid, also breaches the code.
The letter was signed by editors Charles Moore of The Daily Telegraph, Andrew Gowers of the Financial Times, Simon Kelner of The Independent, Robert Thomson of The Times and Rusbridger.
It has been referred to the code committee, which next meets at the end of September.