Commons committee will put media in dock over complaints

Editors are to face a Commons probe into media intrusion, at the very moment when self-regulation by the Press Complaints Commission is under threat.

Victims of media intrusion are being invited to appear before the all-party media committee to relate their experiences – and whether they were satisfied with the way any complaint was handled by the press and the PCC.

The committee, headed by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, decided on the inquiry before the "Cheriegate" affair which has provoked calls for an independent body to replace the PCC.

It will also coincide with the passage through Parliament of the communications bill, when the Liberal Democrats will press an amendment to require the PCC to seek accreditation from media regulator Ofcom.

Media Secretary Tessa Jowell has vowed to whip Labour MPs and peers into the lobbies to ensure the press continues to self-regulate.

The commission, under new chairman Sir Christopher Meyer, will be called to give evidence when the inquiry begins in February.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission and the BBC will also be asked how they deal with complaints.

The MPs said they would examine the behaviour and record of the media over the last 10 years, especially the press since the PCC was set up.

Julie Kirkbride, a Tory member of the committee and a former Daily Telegraph political journalist, told Press Gazette: "A lot of people’s lives have been damaged by the press and they don’t have any redress."

The MPs will submit their findings to the Government.

Both the PCC and the Society of Editors believe the inquiry will vindicate self-regulation.

Acting PCC chairman Professor Robert Pinker said: "This inquiry will be an excellent opportunity for the Commission, and the newspaper and magazine industry, to demonstrate the effectiveness of self-regulation, the success of the Code in raising standards, and our service for ordinary members of the public."

By David Rose

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