Index on Censorship chief executive John Kampfner today backed Labour leader Ed Miliband’s calls for an inquiry into how the press is regulated.
In an interview in The Guardian on Tuesday, Miliband called for a review of regulation following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, adding: I don’t think the Press Complaints Commission has covered itself in glory.”
In a column for same newspaper today, former News Statesman editor Kampfner said Miliband is picking up here where the cross-party Commons select committee on culture, media and sport left off, when they identified press standards as one of three areas in need of reform (the other two were libel reform and privacy).
Kampfner said: ‘Nobody has come out of the Screws affair well – least of all the police or the Press Complaints Commission. The commission has still to apologise for, or learn from, its supine approach to the affair. As the last hope for self-regulation, for keeping politicians and meddling judges away from the Fourth Estate, the PCC is under scrutiny as never before.
‘The commission gives frequent assurances that it really doesn’t work as a shop steward for the industry but as a protector of free speech and of fairness, accuracy and standards. Its appointment of three senior and respected figures to its board bodes well, but there is a long way to go.”
Kampfner concludes: ‘Would Miliband now be making these same noises if he had not been left out in the cold by the omnipotent Antipodean? Of course not, but that does not make him wrong. Free speech is not threatened by good practice. It is defended.”