17 November 2009
IFJ to Investigate Role of UK Press Complaints Body in Telephone Tapping Controversy
The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is to investigate the actions of the Press Complaints
Commission (PCC) in the United
Kingdom over its handling of an inquiry into
a report of improper telephone surveillance by a leading national newspaper.
The PCC, the watchdog for the newspaper industry, conducted an inquiry into methods used by the News of the World's reporters two years ago after the paper's royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, were jailed for illegal interception of messages.
The News of the World, Britain's biggest-selling Sunday title, denied that other reporters were involved in similar activities, but in July The Guardian renewed its claims that a widespread culture of improper surveillance had existed at the time and said the PCC had been misled in its earlier inquiry.
This prompted a new inquiry by the PCC which last week rejected The Guardian's claims. The Guardian dismissed the findings and has condemned the PCC's conduct.
The IFJ, which is carrying out a review of media accountability systems as part of a global campaign to strengthen ethical journalism, has commissioned Jean-Paul Marthoz, a leading international journalist and writer, to review the actions of the PCC. His report is expected by the end of January.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the IFJ international Executive Committee which met in London at the weekend.
"This case raises serious questions about the role and responsibility of a press complaints body to be fair and honest in its dealings with the press," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "If journalists and media cannot trust a self-regulator to be fair, the whole system of self-rule in media loses credibility."
The IFJ review will focus on the conduct of the PCC and its handling of the two inquiries, the procedures it followed in reaching its conclusions and the wider implications for self-regulation for news media.
In December the IFJ will host an international conference in Indonesia on the future of press councils and media accountability systems in a changed communications environment. It is also an issue under scrutiny as part of an inquiry into the future of journalistic work which is being prepared for the IFJ world conference in Spain next year.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide