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PCC criticised over McCann coverage

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PCC criticised over McCann coverage

Post by vee8 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:43 pm

I am guessing the anti-Madeleine's will be spinning this in such a way as to claim the press should be free to print libel if they so desire. I think it means the press should have curbed it's original libelous comments in the first place, then they wouldn't have been sued. It can be taken either way I suppose.


http://latestnews.virginmedia.com/news/uk/2010/02/24/pcc_criticised_over_mccann_coverage

24 February 2010 12:05am


A group of MPs have made a raft of recommendations to curb the "chilling" effect of libel actions on newspapers.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee's wide-ranging report into press standards, privacy and libel also made recommendations to beef up the powers of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
It criticised the PCC for failing to do more to act over "false and damaging" newspaper coverage relating to Madeleine McCann's disappearance, an episode during which the report said self-regulation had not worked.
It said the Press watchdog should be re-named the Press Complaints and Standards Commission, with powers to fine members and suspend printing in the cases of the worst rule-breakers.
The report described the McCann case as "an important test of the industry's ability to regulate itself, and it failed in that test".
It said the newspaper industry's assertion that the McCann case was a one-off event showed that it is "in denial about the scale and gravity of what went wrong, and about the need to learn from those mistakes".
It continued: "In any other industry suffering such a collective breakdown - as for example in the banking sector now - any regulator worth its salt would have instigated an inquiry."
Committee chairman John Whittingdale said there was also a "serious concern" over the "increasing evidence that in recent years investigative journalism is being deterred by the threat and cost of having to defend libel actions...
"This report's recommendations are therefore designed to reduce the cost of libel actions and to correct the balance which has tipped too far in favour of the plaintiff. At the same time, we want to see the self-regulatory system under which the Press operates strengthened in order to increase its credibility and ensure that standards are maintained."
Stephen Abell, director of the PCC, said: "The PCC accepts that the report contains criticisms of some of its structures and practices, which will need to be given due consideration."
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Re: PCC criticised over McCann coverage

Post by dianeh on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:16 am

It criticised the PCC for failing to do more to act over "false and damaging" newspaper coverage relating to Madeleine McCann's disappearance, an episode during which the report said self-regulation had not worked.
It said the Press watchdog should be re-named the Press Complaints and Standards Commission, with powers to fine members and suspend printing in the cases of the worst rule-breakers.

For any that are logically challenged I will interpret. The report is saying that the PCC should have acted against the newspapers for printing false and damaging reports. Had they done this, and the newspapers ceased their actions, then libel action would not have resulted.

The use of fines and suspensions for coverage deemed libel by the PCC would go a long way to reducing the libel actions in court. Of course, the problem with this is, does the PCC have the ability to determine libel, what is the criteria for libel, is there the right to appeal by either the victim or the publisher.

Also, even if such legislation is put in place, it will not remove the right of individuals to sue for libel. Even if fines are incurred, and publication ceases, the damage to reputation can be substantial, and the victim will be entitled to compensation.

Another issue is that the PCC has only limited jurisdiction and not all forms of publishing (such as internet forums etc) are covered.

However, as a first step, I think it is on the right track. And this report in no way condones libel in the press and in fact recognises it as an evil to be removed prior to the need for court action.
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Re: PCC criticised over McCann coverage

Post by vee8 on Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:29 am

This was discussed on the Jeremy Vine show, on Radio 2 this afternoon. The McCann's recieved a lot of sympathy, from all speakers, and also from the public calls, or those that mentioned them. They agreed that the McCann's were completely innocent, but that the press apology should have been in big text on the front pages, at least as big as the original defamatory headlines.
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Re: PCC criticised over McCann coverage

Post by Rosie on Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:26 am

Vee, I heard this on the radio this morning they had a female spokesperson on. She said that the McCann coverage had not been fair and it was actually because of what newspapers had reported over the lies that were coming out of the PJ and Portuguese press, which is why the Express Group newspapers among others have paid out in libel claims and give Kate and Gerry a front page apology.
This woman was talking about the recommendations being mooted were practically unworkable and sound like they belonged more in Korea than a free press! She was referring to one of them being that the newspaper concerned being forced to stop printing for one or two days. She also said that they would be looking at and examining the report in the next couple of weeks, but intimated that the report itself had not done any research and seems to have just grabbed these recommendations out of the air, in short I do not think she was too impressed with it.

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