One of the most disturbing aspects of the phone-tapping scandal is the lack of any substantial debate on the ownership of the press. Can it be right for non-British nationals and non-tax payers to have such a substantial stake in our so-called free press?
Of course the same papers are the first to bleat about foreign football managers and players. Maybe it's because the readership are as stupid as the publishers believe.
There's a pitiful letter in the Guardian by the Director of the PCC, which then gets torpedoed (back to U-boats eh, Eric?) by a short rejoinder published next to it.
- n the coverage about the phone message tapping allegations, the significant action the PCC has already taken to eliminate this deplorable practice seems to have been overlooked. The 2007 convictions of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire sparked a wave of activity to help raise standards and repair public confidence in investigative journalism. Our inquiry across the whole of the British press resulted in six recommendations to newspaper managements to help ensure there would be no repetition. The press code of practice was changed in August 2007 to make it more difficult to justify "accessing digitally held information without consent", and further guidance was published in the editors' codebook.
We conducted seven two-hour training seminars at the News of the World, at which attendance was mandatory for all their staff, and two seminars in London and Glasgow with the Information Commissioner's Office for other national newspaper journalists, to train them in the correct use of undercover newsgathering methods. Additionally, the industry as a whole - also in conjunction with the information commissioner - issued practical guidance to journalists on the application of the Data Protection Act.
This record of activity shows that the PCC took the matter extremely seriously, and was determined to ensure that bad practice would not be repeated. We publicised our activity at every stage so there was absolute transparency - and did not act, in Simon Jenkins's random criticism (Comment, 10 July), "behind the scenes".
Your revelations are extremely concerning about the situation as it was before all this action was taken. Clearly there are separate roles for the police and for non-statutory bodies like the PCC, which have a specific and more limited remit. But if there are any complaints that phone messages have been tapped since 2007 we will deal with them immediately. We are also urgently looking at whether the PCC was deliberately misled at any point during its inquiries two years ago.
Director, Press Complaints Commission
- So, the Press Complaints Commission, the chihuahua of the media regulatory world, is back on the case (Watchdog to examine if News of World executives told the truth, 10 July). The News of the World should be afraid, very afraid.
Ripon, North Yorkshire