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

Yes. As I think I said in my seminar talk, the user experience of the PCC is basically defined by the newspapers. The PCC to some extent acts as a postbox between the complainant and the newspaper. If the newspaper drags its feet, the PCC doesn't have the power to compel a response. If the newspaper gives a derisory response, the PCC in our experience doesn't just tell the newspaper where to get off, it puts it to the complainants and asks for a reaction.

I know that -- or I'm told that the PCC complaints staff do work very hard behind the scenes with editors to get sort of sensible responses, but we've had cases, for example a classic case, Daily Mail, this was the week before the seminar. We had two adjudications pending on the Wednesday of that week about Daily Mail front pages. These were complaints which had been kicking around for several months. You will recall that at the beginning of that week of the seminar, Paul Dacre announced that there was going to be a page 2 corrections column, and the fact that there was now a page 2 corrections column was a major factor in the PCC adjudication deciding that it wasn't necessary for the full page front page error to have any correction featured on the front page.

But we found out -- after the corrections column was announced, we found out that the Daily Mail was unilaterally planning to run these corrections two days before the adjudications were due to take place, because I got an email at 6.30 on a Friday evening from the PCC complaints team saying, "We've just heard from the Daily Mail that they're planning to put these in the corrections column, and as you think the corrections column is a good idea, they assume you'll agree with this".

I obviously thought that was as massive abuse of process to circumvent the adjudication procedure like that, and to do so just at Lord Hunt's first ever meeting of the Commission I thought was really bizarre, and the PCC, rather than saying, "No, hang on, you can't do this, this is a ridiculous way to treat us", which I think they should have done, referred it to me to ask what I thought.

Which I think absolutely sums up the weakness of the PCC in that sort of situation, and surprisingly, and alone among the Daily Mail -- the Daily Mail alone does this, as far as I know, but we've seen on several occasions them coming to the PCC the night before something is due to be published or the working day before something is due to be published with little changes to the extent that once I think we had to get them to reprint a correction properly because they'd buried it within another story. We've also seen that happen to another organisation.

So there does seem to be a sense that newspapers can play games with the PCC and the PCC can't really do much about it. So, yeah, the PCC depends on the co-operation and frankly it doesn't get it. The PCC depends on good faith, and frankly it doesn't always get it.

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