The Press Complaints Commission could be asked to mediate libel claims before they go to court in a bid to make the system cheaper and quicker.
Speaking at a meeting of the joint select committee on the draft defamation bill, Justice Minister Lord McNally said he was “tempted” to make libel claimants go through the press watchdog for an arbitration hearing before they were allowed to take the case to court and issue libel proceedings against a newspaper.
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“I do think that a credible Press Complaints Commission – one that had general respect and could deliver non-legal fast justice in areas where people complained of press abuse – is preferable to the law,” said McNally, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“If complainants want a rapid correction then mediation does offer a cheap and speedy way of addressing that.”
The Mail reported that Justice Secretary Kenmeth Clarke told the committee that the PCC would need to be beefed up before it could take on such a role, and would have to do more to ensure it had the confidence of the public.
A spokesman for the PCC told Press Gazette: ‘The PCC deals with hundreds of claims relating to accuracy each year. The public service it provides gives complaints an opportunity to achieve swift and free redress.
‘We are always happy to consult with and inform Ministers and Officials with regard to the work of the PCC and are heartened that 80 per cent of the public have no concerns over confidence in the PCC.”