Request for public access to PCC's files is rejected

The Government has rejected a demand to change the status of the
Press Complaints Commission in order to force it to open up its files.

With
journalists now free to use the Freedom of Information Act to extract
previously confidential information from central and local government,
the Government has been asked to extend the same rights to people who
lodge complaints with the PCC against newspapers.

Labour MP Clive
Soley, who raised the issue in the Commons this week, claimed the move
was necessary for the PCC to secure public confidence in its watchdog
role.

The move would require the PCC, now an independent body, to
be designated as a public authority, and the Government rejected
Soley’s request.

Culture minister Estelle Morris told the
Commons: “Designating the PCC a public body would not be compatible
with the Government’s support for an independent body overseeing press
selfregulation.

The Government strongly believes that a press free from state intervention is fundamental to democracy.”

Soley told Press Gazette : “I am not happy with the Government’s reply and will be pursing this further.”

He said he would be challenging the PCC to request the Government to change its status.

“I
am asking the PCC itself to give people more confidence in its
activities by asking for it to be designated as a public body. This
would allow complainants the same rights under the Freedom of
Information Act as the press have to investigate.”

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