Thursday, 8 March 2012

Farewell, the Press Complaints Commission

It only lasted 21 years.
It has never had a Chair who wasn't a Conservative peer.
It's being replaced by a 'transitional body' headed by three people, two of whom are prominent Conservative activists.
It totally failed to stop phone hacking: Baroness Buscombe asked the News of the World if it was hacking phones. The paper denied the claim, and she duly told the Guardian that it was telling lies.

I've personal experience of the Press Complaints Commission. I complained about the local paper's abuse of Travellers and Gypsies: it kept using animal metaphors about them and linking their ethnicity to criminal activity.

The PCC told me that claiming that being a member of an ethnic group automatically leads to criminal behaviour is not a breach of the Code. Apparently you can't say 'X is a criminal because he is a Gypsy/Jew/Afro-Caribbean', but you can say 'All Gypsies/Jews/Afro-Caribbeans are criminals'. Only individuals can be discriminated against under the PCC Code. No wonder Adrian Sanders MP described the PCC as 'as useful as a fishnet condom'.

So I won't be mourning its passing - but I do suspect that its eventual replacement will be another Establishment stitch-up, staffed by Tory donors, placemen and preference-seekers.

1 comment:

Sarah Williams said...

so many of our great regulatory bodies are just chocolate teapots; lovely looking on the outside, but can't handle hot water!

As much as I hate the thought of legal controls, we don't seem to have much joy with self-interested self-regulation either.