Thursday 13 October 2011

Bitter Baroness Buscombe bites back at Guardian

Press Complaints Commission chairman Baroness Buscombe snapped at a Guardian journalist when he asked a question after her lecture at City University last night.

Clearly frustrated by the paper's coverage, Buscombe told the journalist, James Ball: "I'm worried that the Guardian, as usual, will misquote me."

Ball had asked Buscombe to clarify a point when she had said during her lecture that there might have to be some kind of statutory power to ensure that publishers like Richard Desmond could not opt out of self-regulation.

She stressed she was against any state regulation of the content of the press but wanted a voluntary system like the Advertising Standards Authority which covered the whole industry.

Buscombe chided the Guardian journalist throughout questions saying "Have you got that Guardian?" and demanded to know what he was tweeting.

At one point she said: "I've been misquoted non-stop for three years. It's really boring. I wish I could complain."

When a questioner asked Baroness Buscombe if she could see an irony in that if someone like her was unable to get redress from the press, then what hope was there for less powerful members of the public, the PCC chair claimed: "I was having a bit of fun" and said it was part of her job to accept brickbats.

Guardian journalist Ball, who works on investigations rather than covering media and wasn't there to report the event, was surprised by the sparky response to his question.

  • Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre made a similar point to Baroness Buscombe to the Leveson inquiry when he said: "While I abhor statutory controls, there's one area where Parliament can help the press. Some way must be found to compel all newspaper owners to fund and participate in self-regulation.

    "God knows, the industry fought hard enough to prevent it, but the Express Group's decision to leave the PCC was a body blow to the commission. How can you have self-regulation when a major newspaper group unilaterally withdraws from it?"

Pic: Baroness Buscombe (Jon Slattery)

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