Editors call on Wakeham to clear air

Editors believe Lord Wakeham should answer his critics in the Liberal Democrat and other parties who are calling on him to step down as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission while his role as a non-executive director of failed US energy company Enron is investigated.

Wakeham was abroad and unavailable for comment when Times political editor Peter Riddell called on Tuesday for him to stand down until his role in the US scandal was resolved.

Riddell’s comment column was swiftly followed by a demand from the Lib Dems and other party MPs for him to resign until he was cleared by US Congressional committees.

Some sources believe that having a high-profile Conservative peer being dragged into the scandal may be welcomed by 10 Downing Street. It is thought it could blunt criticism of the Labour Party’s previous links with Enron and its accountants Arthur Andersen.

The commission can make no statement – Wakeham is employed by the industry, not by the PCC – but soundings taken by the commission among editors suggest they would like him to clear the air.

Grahame Thomson, secretary of Pressbof, the organisation which does employ him, said: "This is clearly a matter for Lord Wakeham himself. Pressbof would not ask him to step down in these circumstances. I don’t see Tony Blair and the Labour Party stepping down from Government while the Westminster conduct committee examines the gas-fired power station issue."

By Jean Morgan

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