The Press Complaints Commission dealt with a record 4,340 complaints in 2007, a rise of 31 per cent on 2006.
Two cases in particular caused the increase in the total number of complaints and generated hundreds of complaints from members of the public.
The first was a comment piece about the parents of Madeline McCann in the Daily Mirror by Tony Parsons in which he criticised the Portuguese police and the country’s ambassador, who complained personally, which caused 485 complaints.
A Heat magazine free sticker, which featured an image of the disabled son of glamour model Katie Price above the words: “Harvey wants to eat me!” which generated 143 complaints before the magazine apologised.
PCC Chairman Sir Christopher Meyer said the figures reflect a greater visibility for the commission, its decision last year to cover online news including video clips and growing public confidence in its ability to sort out disputes with the media.
Meyer said the commission’s work now ranged from “confidential settlements, through published corrections and apologies, to formal rulings against newspapers and magazines”.
He said many settlements developed the PCC’s “case law on the vexed question of where to set the boundary between private life and information that is legitimately in the public interest”.
A priority for the PCC in 2008, he said would be to resolve problems before publications and intervene with its anti-harassment service in the case of “media scrums”.
The PCC annual report will publish the detailed 2007 figures later this year.