Monday, 1 March 2010

IFJ phone hacking report calls for PCC reform

A report prepared for the International Federation of Journalists into illegal telephone hacking allegations surrounding the News of the World has called for the urgent reform of the Press Complaints Commission.
The report was commissioned by the IFJ, of which the NUJ is an affiliate, after the PCC carried out two inquiries into phone hacking involving  the News of the World.
It uses the Guardian's investigation into  phone hacking to claim that the PCC too readily accepted NoW publisher News International's evidence that the actions were an isolated incident.
The IFJ Report, prepared by Belgian journalist and writer Jean-Paul Marthoz, claims that the actions of the PCC have weakened its credibility and revealed major failings in its mandate and its ways of operating.
"A critical moment has arrived and the case for reform of the PCC appears to be unanswerable," says Marthoz in his report which is published today and comes only a week after a Select Committee of the British Parliament referred to the "collective amnesia" and "deliberate obfuscation" of News International executives.
In his report Marthoz calls for a number of changes to the PCC and self-regulation including adopting the right of reply for people who are victims of press misbehaviour, a clause of conscience to allow journalists to opt out of unethical working practice and for more transparency in all areas of the PCC's work.
He says the PCC must establish its independence from the British press industry and be more transparent about its funding. Marthoz also argues that it needs to have the power and mandate to carry out proper investigations and he describes its inquiries into the hacking affair as wholly inadequate.
The report says of the PCC investigation "The affair, it found, seemed to involve just 'two bad apples' in an otherwise virtuous Garden of Eden."
You can read a copy of the report here.
Update: The NUJ is backing the findings of the report. General secretary Jeremy Dear said: "We welcome this important report which once again backs up our calls for reform of the PCC. Journalism is damaged when it does not serve the public interest and does not command public trust. The actions of a few journalists have served to damage journalism and open the door to those who want to statutory controls. It's now time to act to reform the PCC so it can defend journalism and the public interest not those of media owners".

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