Sir Christopher Meyer is to step down as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission at the end of March next year on completing his second three-year term in the post.
The former diplomat and ambassador to the United states took over the job in 2003 taking over from Lord Wakeham, at a time when self regulation of the press was in question. In 2003 a Parliamentary committee looked at imposing further statutory controls on the press. But Meyer announces his exit at a time when both major political parties have stated their support for self-regulation of the press.
Meyer had open-heart surgery shortly after taking over but since then his health is believed to have been good.
In 2005, Meyer faced demands to stand down as chairman after publishing a book of memoirs – DC Confidential – detailing his time as US ambassador.
MPs claimed the book was a breach of trust with ministers and made Meyer unfit to chair the PCC. The book was serialised in the Daily Mail and The Guardian. Meyer assured MPs that he had no plans to write a ‘PCC confidential”.
Meyer said: ‘I have found the challenge of strengthening the independence, effectiveness and credibility of self-regulation as stimulating and demanding as any job I did as a diplomat.
‘Thanks to the dedication and professionalism of all at Halton House, the PCC has made a lot of progress in the past few years and today provides a service to record numbers of the public.
‘But more remains to be done, especially in the digital age, and it is right that, after six years as chairman, I should pass the baton to a successor.
‘I came into this job convinced that self-regulation administered by an independent PCC was the only system of regulation compatible with a free press in a democratic society. I will leave the PCC reinforced in that belief.”
The £1.8m yearly funding for the PCC and the appointment of the chairman is organised by the Press Standards Board of Finance, chaired by Johnston Press chief executive Tim Bowdler.
Bowdler said: ‘Among other initiatives, Sir Christopher was a prime mover in bringing self-regulation of editorial audio-visual material on newspaper and magazine websites within the PCC’s remit.
‘Political and public confidence in the self-regulatory system for newspapers and magazines is a tribute to the way Sir Christopher has led the PCC since his appointment.”
The position of PCC chairman will be advertised.