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'Black Rod' to join press watchdog

Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks is the new charter commissioner with the Press Complaints Commission.

Currently serving as ‘Black Rod’, the Parliamentary ceremonial role, he will take over from Sir Brian Cubbon on his retirement in May.

The role of charter commissioner is to act as an independent figure who investigates complaints about the way in which the PCC has handled cases, reports findings and recommendations to its board and publishes an annual report.

PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer said: “It is absolutely essential that people who complain to us have confidence that the PCC system is fair and rigorous.

“The office of the charter commissioner adds an important layer of accountability that helps keep our standards of service high by offering independent reviews of the manner in which we have handled complaints.

“I am delighted that a man of such renowned independence as Sir Michael Willcocks will be the PCC’s next charter commissioner.

“He takes over from Sir Brian Cubbon, who has executed the role with great distinction, and to whom I am enormously grateful for quickly making the charter commissioner system work so well in the interests of complainants.”

Dr Elizabeth Vallance, Lady Vallance of Tummel, has been joined the PCC’s appointments commission, replacing Sir David Clementi, who retired from it at the end of 2008.

The appointments commission is an unremunerated body that meets twice a year to make appointments to the board of the PCC and the charter compliance panel as well as to appoint the charter commissioner.