Friday, 8 July 2011

The fall of another flop

Another scalp has been claimed in the phone hacking scandal.

The Press Complaints Commission, formerly headed by retired ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, has rightly been axed.

To the end this hopeless quango kept defending itself. When Ed Miliband described it as a “toothless poodle” today they responded by calling him “ignorant.” This morning the Prime Minister finally did the decent thing and closed down this ragbag of an organisation promising to replace it with a “new system that is truly independent of government and press.”

For years many have criticised the PCC for being neither genuinely independent of editors, nor genuinely representative of the expectations of the public. This is a body that was headed by the “kings and queens of quangos” and headed by spineless politically ambitious appointees. It sat meekly on the sidelines and protected the very people it should have been regulating.

John Prescott and Jack Straw, two politicians I previously had little respect for, were especially vocal in attacking this impartiality as far back as 2005 when the certain former ambassador wrote a most inappropriate book full of the very sort of stuff he was meant to be protecting the public from. Prescott stated: “I am alarmed that you are perfectly happy to profit from tittle-tattle, betraying confidences and by character assassination” before pointing out that a significant proportion of the serialisation rights of DC Confidential were paid to a charity run by Meyer’s wife and from which she was a direct beneficiary.

Christopher Meyer in the PCC boardroom

Whilst Meyer was head he didn’t take action about allegations about phone hacking. Frankly, he didn’t send out the right message and as a result a mess that could have been dealt with long ago has morphed into a calamity. A 2007 PCC report stated:

“The Commission condemns breaches of the DPA – or any law – when there are no grounds in the public interest for committing them. However, it has said before that it does not consider that the case for stronger penalties has been made out. Jailing – or threatening to jail – journalists for gathering information in the course of their professional duties is not a step to be taken lightly, and would send out a worrying message about the status of press freedom in the United Kingdom.”

It was sad to see the demise of the News of the World yesterday as it was genuinely good at naming and shaming. The PCC’s loss will not be similarly mourned. It couldn’t have organised a beer swigging session in a brewery let alone correct the mistakes of the press. Good riddance.

Read Prescott’s call for Meyer’s resignation in the 21st November 2005 edition of The Guardian at

Read The Press Complaints Commission’s response to Ed Miliband’s speech:

Read The Press Complaints Commission’s response to the Prime Minister:


AnnaEsse said...

Excellent article, Matthew. Thank you.

DarkAvenger said...

Trust that Meyer to be responsible for letting this mess develop. Just like how he let the mess that is his wife carry on.

Anonymous said...

The PCC = Pefectly Crap Con.

Helen Brickett said...

Baroness Buscombe should be locked up. She I worse than Meyer. He's just a moron who cannot shut his cakehole.

Anonymous said...

It seems Christofer was just as good at running the Press Crooks Club as he was as John Major's PA. I assume he's on the dole now.

Anonymous said...

Yes!!! I am now experiencing a glimmer of hope for a return to true journalism, integrity and truth

Angela Clifton said...

David Cameron has put himself in the sewer by involving his government with Coulson and Brooks.

Christopher Meyer was already in the sewer because of his wifes charity being caught out by the Telegraph. The closing of the PCC leaves him stuck where he belongs - in the stench. Why didn't he deal with this back in 2007?

Anonymous said...

I met Buscombe at a Conservative Future event many years ago. She didn't seem like the brightest of buttons then. I doubt she was capable of regulating anything let alone the Murdoch empire.

Matthew Steeples said...

I suggest readers take a look at this excellent analysis of the final edition of the News of the World at

susan shannon said...

Oh, I wish I were so optimistic to believe that we (speaking from America, here) could return to true journalistic standards. My naive bubble has been burst through my recent discovery that ALL American news lies in the hands of 6 families and their privately owned corporations. Worse, the Obama administration has spent hundreds of millions of American tax dollars to bail out J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs- two of the major shell companies of these 6 families. There is absolutely no doubt that these families control Obama, among politicians.

There will be no return to journalistic standards until laws are put in place forbidding the ownership of the news organizations by so few private hands. Antitrust laws need to be applied in smarter ways.

The trouble is: these six companies funnel hundreds of millions into presidential campaign funds and have the power to deny media coverage to any candidate who will not 'walk the line'.

How do you defeat that?

The more I think about it, there seems to be an inevitability to it all. There have always been megalomaniacs who have wanted to own the world. Now, with the power of technology, they can do it. But I calm myself with one thought: if the People refuse to cooperate, they lose. They still need us to work and buy their products. They can't put everyone in jail. All we need to do is say, "no," sit down and refuse to do their bidding.

Anonymous said...

Meyer should be ashamed of himself. I bet though that he isn't. Without him this country would be a better place. This turd like individual should be flushed away.

Paul said...

...and today, we discover that a former PCC member, Neil Wallis, was in the pay of Scotland Yard. £1,000 per day to advise the commissioner and to consult with Yates himself, during the time of the first so-called 'investigation'. It stinks to high heaven, the whole thing. A network of crooks, scratching each other's backs and deceiving the public. They're now on the brink of being rumbled and that's what should happen, to the fullest possible extent.