The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I think it would be important to -- if there were to be a move towards investigatory powers, we would want to look at the status and accountability of the PCC itself. One of the difficulties with self-regulation, and the academic literature is quite strong on this point, is that a self-regulatory system beyond which there is no appeal, which is, for example, not subject to freedom of information and so on, can be a problem, and the more responsibility you place on a self-regulatory body, the more important these issues become.

So certainly would I be comfortable with the current PCC having investigatory powers? I would be deeply uncomfortable with it. If it had an appropriate structure, and again there are different degrees to which the state is involved or indeed the courts are involved, but a body that exercises powers of that nature must be accountable and the PCC does not in my view have the best of records in that way because it resisted the -- or purported to resist the application of the Human Rights Act to itself, is not prescribed for the FOI act even though bodies with reasonably similar functions either are or act as if they are.

So I think you would want to look quite carefully at the body, and Ofcom has some record in this, as part of that designation you would build in checks and balances, because as I think was suggested this morning, these are quite serious powers and they have very serious consequences for press freedom. So you would need to do that. But with that caveat, I thought what Professor Petley as well as the speakers this morning said makes an awful lot of sense.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech