I am very proud of everything we have achieved at the PCC and do not wish it to be damaged by continuing short-term speculation.
Lord Wakeham is to stand down temporarily as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission because of his links with scandal-hit US energy company Enron.
There have been calls by politicians and by some newspapers for Lord Wakeham to relinquish his role at the PCC’s leader until investigations into the collapse of Enron, of which Wakeham is a non-executive director, are completed.
In a statement issued today (Thursday), Lord Wakeham says:
"As Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission for the past seven years, I am only too aware of the damage that can be done to individuals and institutions that are thrust into the public spotlight.
Since the collapse of Enron, I have been unable to make any statement or undertake any interviews on the subject for legal reasons. I am conscious that some see this position as incompatible with the Chairmanship of the Commission.
I am very proud of everything we have achieved at the PCC and do not wish it to be damaged by continuing short-term speculation. I therefore see it as a matter of honour to stand aside temporarily from the Chairmanship of the Commission until the report of the Independent Investigating Committee of Enron is published and evaluated. I am co-operating actively with these inquiries.
"I will not be making any further statement."
Professor Robert Pinker, privacy commissioner of the PCC, who has been been with the Commission since it was founded nearly 11 years ago, is to stand in for Lord Wakeham in his absence.
The announcement was made by Pressbof, the body which runs the PCC’s funding, along with a statement from its chairman Sir Harry Roche who regretted Wakeham’s decision.
Sir Harry said: "The manner and timing of the announcement underlines his sense of integrity and honour and it is precisely those qualities – along with the shrewdest of political minds and an unswerving commitment to self-regulation – that has made him such an outstanding chairman of the Press Complaints Commission for the last seven years.
"His absence from the chair of the Commission even for a temporary period will be a great loss."
By Jean Morgan