Finding the right guy for Salisbury Square

So what happens now? Or, rather, who happens now Lord Wakeham has mutated from standing aside as PCC chairman to standing down?

Enter Pressbof (aka Press Board of Finance), the industry committee charged with finding a chairman to meet the old and the new challenges to self-regulation. Pressbof had better get it right.

For starters, it must select a man or woman with the skills to confound Lord Chancellor Irvine’s campaign to substitute fines and jail for PCC Code discipline on payment to witnesses. Such as those who brought down Lord Archer and Gary Glitter.

True, Fleet Street chequebooks would last longer. But editors who never use such payments would soon be fettered too. For if justifiable dealings are to be criminalised, how soon before the press may not even talk to witnesses? The same material can hardly be criminal if paid for, but legitimate if acquired for free.

The howl to ban hunting with newshounds grows louder on Government backbenches then when the party was in opposition and lusting for laws to compel right of reply and protection of privacy.

Wakeham was valued for bringing political expertise to the PCC, but he would not have been less effective had he possessed a legal background too.

In the current climate, with privacy law offering opportunity not only for compensation but injunction, it would be no bad thing for the new boss at Salisbury Square to be blessed with contacts in both worlds.

For example? Ex-Chancellor and ex-Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke QC. A good guy to have on our side.

Exclusive rumour


The Sunday Express had to itself "a rumour" that the Daily Star is about to get a £20m Sunday launch.

"Several top marketing companies are thought to have worked on the new paper for over a year," it reported. And "an insider" said the identities of the new team would surprise the papers they currently work for.

Another one for the Enigma decoder? Or a cunning ploy to encourage Mirror Group to sell Richard Desmond its Sunday People and avoid war with a new Sunday Desmond?

For crying out loud


Q: What’s the difference between the Hollywood Oscars and the "Oscars" of British Journalism?

A: In Hollywood, it’s the winners who cry.

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