Tim Toulmin, acting director of the Press Complaints Commission, has been given the job on a permanent basis. He emerged ahead of a shortlisted field of four in a meeting of commissioners on Wednesday.
His rivals for the job included Chris Hobson, former director of corporate affairs at Granada, and Vivien Hepworth, a member of the commission who was previously chairwoman of Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.
Toulmin has been at the commission for eight years, during which time he has seen newspaper self-regulation emerge strengthened from a number of difficult periods. He has been acting director since the resignation of Guy Black, who left to head Tory leader Michael Howard’s communications team.
Before joining the PCC, Toulmin studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge, the alma mater of both Black and PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer.
He is from a family with newspapers in its blood. Sir George Toulmin was instrumental in the launch of the Lancashire Evening Post in 1886 and Tim’s father Michael was formerly head of United Newspapers.
One industry observer said of the Toulmin appointment: “I am surprised. Politically I thought they would go for someone not already associated with the Press Complaints Commission.”
But Meyer said: “This is no status quo appointment. Tim has clear, imaginative ideas for taking the PCC forward and improving our service to members of the public.”
He will be running an organisation in a strong position, but there are plenty of challenges ahead. The threat of privacy law being established through the courts has not disappeared, while last year’s Media Select Committee hearings demonstrated that there remain significant divisions between some national newspaper editors on the future of self-regulation.
Toulmin said: “The commission has an excellent story to tell in terms of how it has raised standards in journalistic behaviour and newspaper reporting over the past few years.
I am looking forward to building on that.”