'Astonishing in its ignorance' - PCC hits back at report - Press Gazette

'Astonishing in its ignorance' - PCC hits back at report

• Read Meyer’s letter to the Media Standards Trust in full

Sir Christopher Meyer, outgoing chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has renewed his attack on the Media Standards Trust.

Last month, the Trust – a journalism ethics charity – labelled the PCC “unaccountable and opaque”.

Then, Meyer said the report was a “cuttings job masquerading as a serious inquiry”.

Now, in a five-page letter to the Trust’s Anthony Salz, Meyer describes the report as “unbalanced”, “misleading”, “astonishing in its ignorance” and said it contained “innumerable inaccuracies and flawed analysis”.

In the letter, seen by Press Gazette, Meyer set out “some” of what he said were the report’s weaknesses.

“Here in summary are some of the most egregious,” he wrote. “The list is far from exhaustive.”

Firstly, Meyer said the allegation that “only one in 250 complaints [is] upheld” was “wholly misleading”.

He said this was because only a third of its complaints do, in fact, fall under its jurisdiction, some complaints are duplicated, and “adjudications” are different to “rulings”.

Meyer also argued that rulings were “by no means a full record of our activity”.

He said the PCC was resolving more issues pre-publication and pre-complaint, and that “anti-harassment is a growth area”.

Meyer added that the PCC was in a process of “permanent evolution”, and cited increasing its lay majority, a “24/7” hotline for people suffering media harassment, and regional “open days” as examples.

Finally, he argued that, due to “three select committee hearings in six years”, it was “hard to understand how the MST can conclude the PCC is not accountable”.

An MST spokesman said the group was “pleased to have kick-started a debate”.

Meyer, a former diplomat and press officer for John Major while prime minister, is leaving the PCC next month.

His replacement is Peta Buscombe, the Advertising Association chief executive.

• Read Meyer’s letter to the Media Standards Trust in full