Committee will hear PressWise evidence

PressWise Trust chairman Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC and director Mike Jempson will give evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into privacy and media intrusion on 4 March.

Blom-Cooper was the last chairman of the Press Council before it was axed and replaced by the Press Complaints Commission. The trust and the PCC have not seen eye to eye in the past.

The trust, which claims it protects members of the public from media misbehaviour, has prepared a 60-page, 25,000-word dossier containing a “multitude of personal experience” from its clients for the eyes of select committee members only.

In their submission, Blom-Cooper and Jempson will tell the committee: “Media industries have a pervasive influence on people’s lives, and as they grow and ownership transfers to trans-national conglomerates and competition increases, they become less accountable to listeners, readers and viewers.”

They believe media invasion of privacy has become an intractable and inexorable process.

The submission adds: “It is a moot point whether public expectations of journalism have been driven down by market forces or whether public appetites have been sharpened by the growth of a ‘confessional culture’ typified by ‘reality television’ over the last 10 years.”

They claim it is “incontrovertible” that many individuals, with little knowledge of media processes, who get caught in the spotlight, suffer harm and have inadequate remedies – in law or via the regulatory systems.

“What is at issue is public confidence in journalists to inform them accurately about current events and to defend their rights against abuses of power.”

The trust wants a human rights commission to investigate abuses of power by public authorities and the media; codes and guidelines for the media reviewed regularly, taking into account the views of journalists; and media-wide consultation on the codes.

By Jean Morgan

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