Independent journalist Joan Smith (pictured above giving evidence to Leveson) is to take over from Brian Cathcart as executive director of press reform pressure group Hacked Off.
As new press regulator IPSO gears up for launch in September 2014, Hacked Off is arguing that the new body lacks independence from the press industry so will suffer the same failings as the PCC.
Smith is a columnist for The Independent and was a victim of phone-hacking by the News of the World.
Here is the statement from Hacked Off:
The journalist, author and free speech campaigner Joan Smith has been appointed as Executive Director of Hacked Off, the campaign for a free and accountable press. She takes over from Professor Brian Cathcart who steps down in June 2014.
Joan is a leading journalist, novelist and human rights campaigner. She is the former chair of the Writers In Prison committee in the English Section of International PEN. Joan was a victim of phone hacking by the News of the World and has been involved in Hacked Off since 2011.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, Chair of Hacked Off, said:
“I am delighted that Joan has agreed to take on the role of Executive Director, leading the team and the campaign at a crucial time. There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver a truly ethical press, and Joan’s rich experience as a campaigner, writer and a victim of press abuse will be invaluable to delivering real change.
“I would like to express our thanks and appreciation for the extraordinary work Brian has done for Hacked Off over the past three years. He was a co-founder of the campaign and was instrumental in ensuring that the voices of victims of press abuse were heard by the Leveson Inquiry. He has campaigned tirelessly over the past three years for a free and accountable press and we wish him well on his return to academic work.”
Joan Smith commented:
“Hacked Off has already achieved great things, and it enjoys tremendous levels of support from both the public and victims of press intrusion. As a journalist, I’m passionate about the need to bring ethics back into the heart of the British press; as a target of phone hacking, I know how much damage intrusive reporting has done to individuals and the reputation of the industry.
“I am thrilled to take on the role as Executive Director at Hacked Off. With the 2015 general election on the horizon, it is time for decisive action on press self-regulation.”
Prof. Brian Cathcart added:
“It has been an honour to lead Hacked Off and I have enjoyed the job enormously. The implementation of the Leveson recommendations is progressing despite desperate obstruction by big press companies, and it is great to know that Joan will be there, pushing things forward, speaking up for the victims and the public and bringing new ideas and energy to Hacked Off.”