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Record number of complaints lodged with PCC

The Press Complaints Commission received a record 4,698 complaints during 2008 – more than a tenth of them concerning a single national newspaper article.

In December, Times columnist Matthew Parris suggested piano wire should be strung across country lanes to decapitate cyclists who litter the countryside.

It became the most complained about article of last year, with 584 people writing to the PCC in protest.

It is just one of a host of stats revealed in the Commission’s annual report published today, which shows an increase in cases where its help has been requested or used.

Other key findings from today’s review show:

  • The PCC made 1,420 rulings on different cases, up 16pc on 2007, including 45 formal adjudications.
  • A total of 678 of these cases involved breaches of the PCC’s Code of Practice, an increase of 4pc.
  • There was a huge spike in the number of privacy rulings – 329, up 35pc on the previous year.
  • The Commission issued 57 pre-publication private advisory notes to the media which helped protect people’s privacy. These notes are sent to editors and lawyers and usually result in the problem stopping, rendering a formal complaint unnecessary.
  • Launching the report, outgoing PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer said: “These figures set all-time records in every category.

    “There could be no clearer evidence of strong public confidence in the PCC and our ability to put things right quickly when inaccuracies or intrusive details are published, whether online or in print.

    “2008 has, as never before, underscored the range and flexibility of our services to the public, including confidential pre-publication advice, our 24/7 anti-harassment service, the negotiation of corrections and apologies, the rapid removal of online material, and, where necessary, the public censuring of newspapers and magazines.

    “As I prepare to step down after six years chairing the PCC, it is particularly gratifying that we are now able to help record numbers of people to protect their privacy.

    “Compared with 2007, there was a greater increase in privacy rulings than in any other category; and thanks to the expansion of our pre-publication activity, we have more than ever been able to prevent intrusions arising in the first place.

    “At the same time, as the recent publication of the revised edition of the Editors’ Codebook makes clear, the PCC has been able further to develop the necessary distinction to be made between the protection of ‘genuine’ privacy and unacceptable attempts at image control by, for example, people in the public eye.”

  • To read the full annual review visit the PCC website.


    cadmus (18/03/2009 10:08:07)
    Ah, it’s public confidence that’s creating more complaints ….
    … and there’s cynical old me with my jaundiced view thinking it’s down to falling standards of journalism due to lack of subs, shortage of staff and papers being shovelled out regardless of quality

    subbedout (18/03/2009 10:52:08)
    Who’d want to be a sub especially at local rag level? dropping copy (a lot of it poorly written and not checked properly) into boxes and no creative flair allowed.
    Might as well employ chimps. Damn it, given management an idea!
    I’m off.