PCC's Meyer to face grilling from MPs on phone tapping

Press Complaints Commission chairman Sir Christopher Meyer is set to receive a grilling from MPs during a one-day inquiry as Parliament looks again at whether self-regulation of the press is working.

MPs on the All Party Commons and Media Select Committee are understood to be concerned by the recent paparazzi “hounding” of Prince William’s girlfriend Kate Middleton and by revelations of phone-tapping tactics used by the News of the World.

The chairman of the committee, Tory MP John Whittingdale, told Press Gazette that an inquiry was “very likely” although a formal decision had not been taken.

He said: “There are a number of different incidents which causes us to ask: ‘Is the PCC code working?’” In a separate move, the PCC has revealed that it is planning to write to national and regional newspaper editors across the country seeking assurances on the measures they are putting in place to ensure their journalists are not illegally obtaining private telephone messages.

PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer announced today that the commission plans to deal with the issues raised by the conviction of Goodman.
He said: "I have previously made clear that I deplore the breach of the Code and the law in this case. The Commission had announced that it would make specific inquiries of the editor of the newspaper, but as he has now resigned this is no longer appropriate.

"There are now various steps that need to be taken. The public has a right to know that lessons have been learned from this episode, both at the newspaper and more generally. We are therefore doing three things.

"First, we are writing to the new editor of the News of the World with a number of questions, including what he will be doing to ensure that the situation involving Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire does not recur.

"Second, we will be writing to the editors of national and regional newspapers and magazines, with copies to their managements, to find out the extent of internal controls aimed at preventing intrusive fishing expeditions; and what is being done to instil understanding both of the Code of Practice and the law in this area, and also of journalistic public interest exemptions.

"The Data Protection Act has an obvious relevance here. Third, the board of the Commission will consider these industry responses with a view to publishing a review of the current situation, with recommendations for best practice if necessary, in order to prevent a similar situation arising in the future. This is in line with its duty to promote high professional standards of journalism."

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