Richard Desmond hints at return to PCC

Media tycoon Richard Desmond has indicated that he could bring his newspapers and magazines back under the gaze of a press regulator.

He defended his decision to remove the publications, including the Daily Express, from the remit of the “Old Boys’ Club” Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in January.

But he told a parliamentary committee investigating privacy laws that he hoped to be able to rejoin the body under the new leadership of Lord Hunt.

“I am sure that with a chairman like that, we could be working together again,” Desmond told the joint committee on privacy and injunctions.

It would need to be reconstituted so that it was made up of outside experts rather than senior Fleet Street figures – including his bitter rivals, he suggested.

He said he was happy with the regulation of his television channel Five because “you haven’t got the people sitting there who want to kill you”.

Northern & Shell, which is run by Desmond and also publishes the Star on Sunday and OK! magazine, removed itself from the auspices of the PCC.

Editorial director Paul Ashford said the group could return if it was set up more like the communications regulator but remain a voluntary system, not statutory like Ofcom.

Explaining his decision to pull out of the PCC, Desmond said he had “found some members of the PCC to be very hypocritical”.

He reserved particular criticism for the regulator’s treatment of his newspapers over coverage of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

“I am sorry for what we published but at the end of the day every other newspaper was publishing the same and, we learned last week, certain others were doing very, very bad things,” he said, in a reference to phone-hacking allegations.

Asked to expand, he said: “We knew that the News of the World had been hacking because the guy had been imprisoned.

“We always heard internally about the Mail on Sunday, we always heard internally about the Mirror, we always heard internally about the People.

“These were the very people who were sitting there hanging us out to dry.”

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