PCC refuses to accept Express complaint

Richard Desmond’s Express Newspapers is outraged that the Press Complaints Commission will not accept a complaint against Associated Newspapers’ Evening Standard over the reporting of the Catherine Zeta-Jones versus Hello! court case, writes Jean Morgan.

The PCC has told Express Newspapers that it has never so far entertained a complaint from one newspaper group against another and cannot accept Desmond’s.

Desmond’s lawyers are still trying to persuade the commission to accept his grievance that the Standard headline “Zeta-Jones loses her claim for privacy” was inaccurate. Zeta-Jones won her confidentiality claim over Hello!’s use of pictures of her wedding and the judge did not rule on her breach of privacy claim.

If they fail, it could be that Zeta-Jones and husband Michael Douglas would make a complaint as individuals.

Desmond’s spokesman said: “From the Express point of view, they think it is wrong of the PCC, and that you should be able to complain as a newspaper or a magazine, if you are the victim of inaccurate reporting. Other companies and individuals can complain. It is a major weakness in the PCC.

“They think this is a genuinely maliciously inaccurate piece of reporting about another publication. They are shocked that the complaints are not being accepted, simply because of where they are coming from. It is not a vexatious complaint – it is genuinely about inaccurate reporting.”

The PCC has declined to adjudicate on newspaper against newspaper grievances because it depends on the whole of the industry for its goodwill and could find itself in an invidious position.

Jean Morgan

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