PCC chairman Baroness Buscombe has claimed the watchdog could have prevented details emerging about footballer Ryan Giggs’ private life if only he had asked.
Buscombe was appearing on BBC Two’s Newsnight yesterday after Lib Dem MP John Hemming revealed in the House of Commons that Giggs was the footballer at the centre of a Twitter privacy row.
‘The truth is that we exist – the Press Complaints Commission – to respond to these kinds of issues,’she said.
‘We deal with privacy all the time… if he [Giggs] had come to us – as people do every day – to ask us to stop information being published, we have an almost 100 per cent success rate in that.’
Asked if the PCC would have told editors not to publish material about the footballer if had approached it, she replied: ‘Yes, that’s what we do.”
And asked if the editors would have agreed, she said: ‘They do agree all the time.”
She continued: ‘The whole point is we would have talked to them about the whole issue of public interest – that is what is so important in all these cases.
‘We stop the press. If we think they’re interfering with people’s privacy where the bar of public interest has not been met, we stop them.’
Buscombe was then asked if this would be the same for anyone approaching the PCC with fears of a kiss-and-tell story. She replied: ‘It depends on the whole issue.
‘Most of the time when we get issues like that coming to us, we send out a desist notice and we say to the press, ‘look, there’s an issue here, you may be in breach of the code’.”
Buscombe also reiterated her claim that the regulator was more active than judges when it comes to privacy law.
She said: ‘The whole point about the PCC is we’re a fast, free service for the public and we are more active on privacy issues every day of the week than the courts… many more people are using us than are going to the courts.
‘We dealt with 600 privacy complaints in the last year, we’ve actually sent out 100 desist notices in the last few months.’
She was joined in the studio by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
Earlier in the day, Prescott won his latest bid to mount a legal challenge over the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the News of the World phone-hacking case.
He repeatedly claimed that national newspaper editors in the UK were ‘out of control’and told Buscombe the PCC was ‘useless”
‘Instead of the judges making a decision about what is the right of privacy and public and Freedom of Information, it’s the editors,’he claimed.
‘Who the hell are the editors to make that judgement, and attack the judges for doing it?
‘And you’ve got no control over the editors at the Press Complaint Commission. You’re useless.”