Editors announce public consultation on Code and urgent review of public interest

The Editors of Code of Practice Committee, chaired by Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, has announced a public consultation as part of a new review that will also see  the code’s definition of the public interest urgently revised.

The committee has also agreed to follow Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendation to appoint lay members. At present the committee is made up of 13 editors plus the chairman and the director  of Press Complaints Commission.

Under the new plans the number of editors will be reduced to 10 and five lay members will be appointed, including the chairman and director of the new regulator earmarked to replace the PCC.

While the industry is keen to show its new plans for future press regulation are ‘Leveson compliant’, in his recommendations the judge said that editors should play and “important” but not “decisive” role on the committee.

The committee also proposes to add a new compliance clause to the Editors’ Code. It said in a statement: “Under this clause all editors must offer readers a clear and effective means of making complaints, and publish corrections and apologies promptly, preferably without recourse to the new regulator.

Where agreements cannot be reached by negotiation, the clause will “make clear that editors will have to publish adjudications, and approved corrections and apologies, in positions required by the regulator”.

Commenting on the consultation, the committee said: “The committee will, also, as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson, undertake a review of the code. It will invite suggestions from the public and, for the first time, newspapers and magazines will be encouraged to urge their own readers to contribute."

The committee will also review the Editors’ Codebook to ensure “in the light of the Leveson Report” it gives editors and journalists “the best possible guidance on best practice”.

Dacre said today: “Lord Justice Leveson recognised in his report that the Editors’ Code was praised by witnesses to his inquiry.

“He also recommended improvement  – and the committee is determined to meet his challenges as promptly and positively as possible.”

The Code’s definition of the public interest will be urgently reviewed to take into account the definition pf the public interest published by the Director of Public Prosecution earlier this year.

At a media briefing this afternoon, PCC chairman Lord Hunt said the new changes showed the committee was "moving much further than people ever expected them to do" and hailed it as a "significant" development.

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