Press watchdog responds to Hugh Grant criticism

The Press Complaints Commission today hit back at criticism from the actor Hugh Grant after he accused the press watchdog of being ‘absolutely toothless”.

Grant’s comments were made on BBC Two’s Newsnight last Friday when he attacked the tabloid press and defended the use of celebrity gagging orders.

The PCC has responded by claiming Grant had not used its services for fifteen years and so was ‘not speaking with any direct knowledge of its current practices”.

‘The press has been completely out of control for the last 20 years and everyone knows that, and the PCC is the laughing stock of the world in terms of policing the press,” Grant said in a discussion on injunctions. “They are absolutely toothless.

‘The lawyer will say at the end of a conversation about suing someone, ‘of course you can go to the PCC’, and then everyone has a laugh about it.”

A spokesperson for the PCC said: ‘Hugh Grant has not used the PCC since 1996, and is not speaking with any direct knowledge of its current practices or successes.

‘He seems to be extending his criticisms of the press heedlessly onto the PCC. Public polling and feedback from those who do use the PCC’s services shows clear confidence in the PCC’s effectiveness.

‘Indeed, it is now well established – including recently by the Prime Minister – that the PCC has improved significantly over the years, handling people’s complaints and protecting their privacy effectively, privately and at no cost to the complainant.

‘We would be happy to explain our services to Mr Grant, so he can be better informed about them when he speaks.’

Grant also claimed that there was “no distinction between mugging someone for their wallet and their watch and selling it on the street, and mugging them for their privacy and selling it in a newspaper”.

He added: ‘I’ve been very pleased with this whole injunction business. It’s not perfect by any means – there are flaws to it – but it’s fabulous that people can go to a judge and stop these things being printed.

‘And it’s wonderful that, ultimately, if it goes on like that, the worst of the tabloids will pretty much go out of business, because there’s very little real journalism done in those papers now; it’s mainly stealing successful people’s privacy and selling it.”

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