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