The Director of the Press Complaints Commission, Stephen Abell, has announced he will leave the organisation at the end of this month.
Abell, was appointed director in December 2009 and has been with the PCC since joining as a graduate in September 2001, is leaving to become a partner at Pagefield communications consultancy where he will handle ‘media relations and crisis communication”.
Michael McManus, from the PR firm Bell Pottinger, has been appointed ‘director of transition”, joining a new team including director of communications Jonathan Collett and Charlotte Dewar, who has been promoted to head of complaints and pre-publication services.
“It has been a great privilege to work over the years with the committed, wonderful staff and board members of the PCC,’said Abell.
‘I have been involved with the PCC for more than a decade, and I decided last year that it was time for a new challenge. First, I wanted to work with David Hunt in the development of positive proposals for a new structure of self-regulation. I believe we have now done that. I also wanted to give a full account of the work of the PCC to Lord Justice Leveson.
‘I remain a firm supporter of enhanced self-regulation for the press, maintaining all that is good about the work of the PCC, and am confident that this will be achieved as a result of the Leveson Inquiry.”
He added: ‘My greatest professional satisfaction at the PCC has been in our establishment of a bespoke, 24-hour service to help complainants obtain redress, stop harassment and prevent the publication of inaccurate or intrusive material.
‘Whatever changes are made to the regulatory landscape, this free, public service should continue to the benefit of those in need of it. I leave a great team of people, who have much to offer in the changing world ahead.”
PCC chair Lord Hunt said: ‘When I joined the PCC last year, Stephen and I agreed that we would work together until we were in a position to propose a new structure for self-regulation of the press.
‘I have valued his assistance in this, and his professionalism in leading the PCC’s staff as they continued their important work during a difficult period.
‘It is testament to him that the service to complainants, both those in the public eye and those without claim to celebrity, has improved and expanded over the last few years. I wish him success in all his future endeavours”.
McManus said that his work in journalism and politics had convinced him that “self-regulation of the press can and must be made to work”, adding: “I relish the challenge of playing such a senior role in the urgent and crucially important task of creating a new, independent press regulator with real teeth.”
The PCC said it was also looking to recruit another senior member of staff ‘to ensure the smooth and full continuous provision of a top-class service during the period of transition and beyond”.
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