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
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
For more information
contact the IFJ at
+32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists
in 123 countries worldwide