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MPs call for the press to be better regulated

The Government is being urged to introduce a new privacy law as part of new safeguards against media intrusion.

A report published by the culture, media and sport committee, recommendeds that the Government introduces new laws “to clarify the protection that individuals can expect from unwarranted intrusion by anyone – not the press alone – into their private lives”.

But the Government has made clear that it would continue to resist calls for such legislation.

The parliamentry committee also said that self-regulation of the press should continue, but suggested a number of ways that the work of the Press Complaints Commission could be improved.

These include the introduction of new provision to respond to complainants who did not want mediation but wanted the commission to make a judgement in reference to the code on their case without this insistence prejudicing the result.

The report said: “At the very least the commission should make an assessment amongst complainants as to the level of demand for such an innovation.”

It also suggested the PCC should become more proactive by setting up a dedicated pre-publication team to handle inquiries arising before publication and issues related to media harassment.

The report went on to suggest that adjudications published in newspapers as part of any remedial action should be highlighted on the front page and the PCC’s annual report should include a league table to show how publications are performing against the code.

It also recommended journalists be allowed to refuse an assignment on the grounds that it breaches the Code and that press members, including members of the Code Committee, who preside over persistently offending publications should be required to stand down and should be ineligible for reappointment for a set period.

Following the publication of the committee’s report, PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer said that while welcoming it, it was important to remember that as an independent body the PCC is not obliged to accept any of the recommendations.

He said: “Our four-fold commitment to the public whose interests we serve remains clear.

“To continue raising standards of reporting across the British print media. To ensure that all those who need to complain have the information and help to do so.

“To provide a first class service to those with a grievance – free, fast and fair for all regardless of background. And to do so in a transparent, accountable and robustly independent way.”

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