Wednesday 28 September 2011

The Indy: 'Don't dismiss Ivan Lewis proposal of journalists being struck off for malpractice'

The Independent in a leader today takes a soft line on the idea put forward by Labour shadow culture and media secretary Ivan Lewis that journalists guilty of gross malpractice should be "struck off".

His comments led to claims that the Labour party wanted to license and "blacklist" journalists.

But the Indy says: "There were certainly aspects of what was said by Ivan Lewis, the shadow Culture and Media Secretary, to give pause, but there was no mention of 'licensing' journalists, or of putting them on a 'register'. Mr Lewis talked of 'independent regulation' and said that 'the industry should consider whether people guilty of gross malpractice should be struck off'.

"When, for example, doctors or jockeys are accused of professional misconduct, their cases are dealt with not by their employers, nor by the state, but by, respectively, the General Medical Council and the Jockey Club, self-regulatory bodies set up by their industry but bodies with far more clout than the PCC.

"In cases where a journalist has been grossly invading the privacy of innocent people, or lying, or otherwise behaving in a manner that calls into question their fitness to be considered a journalist, it would make sense if there were an independent body – made up of people who understand the industry – to sit in judgement on them.

"An independent press is a non-negotiable element in a free society. But that is not to dismiss in its entirety Mr Lewis's proposal."

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