Feeds

Press body looks at its naughty bits as hacking scandal grinds on

PCC to review journos' code, backtracks on prior report clearing NotW

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is to review the rules that govern press behaviour in the UK to maintain public confidence in newspapers in the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, it has said.

The self-regulatory industry body, which deals with complaints about content in newspapers and magazines, said that it will identify what changes can be made to the Editors' Code of Practice. It said changes were required to improve the public's confidence in how the press is governed.

The Editors' Code is a set of standards for editors and journalists. It sets out behaviour journalists should observe when reporting and includes rules on accuracy, intrusion into grief and privacy and secret recordings.

"Public members of the Commission will lead a review of all aspects of press regulation in its current form, which will be designed to ensure that public confidence is enhanced," the PCC said in a statement.

"The Commission will wish to review its own constitution and funding arrangements, the range of sanctions available to it, and its practical independence," the PCC statement said.

The PCC said it would review the Code following an announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron that there would be a public inquiry into phone hacking practices by the media.

The hacking of phones is a crime under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Under RIPA both the hacker of a mobile phone and those who commissioned the hacking would face the risk of prosecution. The law does not give the accused the right to claim the hacking activity was conducted in the public interest.

The Metropolitan Police (the Met) has been investigating allegations that journalists at the News of the World (NotW) newspaper commissioned private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to access voicemail messages left on mobile phones.

Mulcaire is alleged to have hacked into phones belonging to a number of individuals including murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and victims of the 2007 London terrorist bombings.

The Met reopened an investigation into phone hacking in January after it said it had received "significant new information" about cases. An original investigation led to the prosecution of Mulcaire and NotW royal correspondent Clive Goodman who were both jailed in 2007 for hacking into the phones of royal staff.

In May, the High Court ruled that a judicial review should take place to review police handling of the investigations.

The PCC said phone hacking was "unacceptable" and that News International, the owners of the NotW, had "undermined assurances" it had given over the activity in the past.

It said it could no longer stand by a report it previously published that had said there was no evidence the NotW misled them when it had investigated phone hacking activities against the paper.

The PCC said it welcomed the announcement that there would be an inquiry into phone hacking and said that it would act to change how press behaviour was governed.

"The PCC is determined to identify necessary reforms that will guarantee public confidence in press regulation," Baroness Buscombe, the PCC chairman said.

"There is currently a major police investigation, which has the necessary powers of investigation and resources to identify the perpetrators of these criminal acts," Baroness Buscombe said.

"However, the Commission is determined to play its part in bringing to a conclusion this shocking chapter, which has stained British journalism, and to ensure that good comes out of it."

"The status quo is clearly not an option, and we need to identify how the model of an independent PCC can be enhanced best to meet these challenges. Hence the action we have taken," the PCC chairman said.

The inquiry into phone hacking should include a review of the role the PCC plays in regulating the press, MPs said in a House of Commons debate on Wednesday.

Currently the PCC can "name and shame" publications that break the Editors' Code and ask them to publish apologies, but it has no legal powers to enforce punishments such as fines for violations of the Code.

Alun Michael MP described the PCC as a "joke" and said that the PCC should be given new powers to regulate the press.

"The Press Complaints Commission clearly has neither the will nor the capacity to change things, but we need to take care: statutory regulation of the press and media could endanger press independence, which would be a massive mistake. We need an independent body, but one that is robust and effective and has the powers to investigate and enforce," Michael said in the debate.

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.