Letter: A price-tag on truth

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The Independent Culture
A price-tag on truth

Sir: Max Clifford is right to warn those who sell their stories that their reputations will for ever be at risk. ("Even a child killer should be able to sell her story", 18 June) He is wrong to suggest the market place is the best regulator of press morals.

The newspaper business is about making money and a chequebook has no morals. If newspapers see it as their function to hand out rough justice every day, they must be prepared to take it. But they have decreed that the Press Complaints Commission they pay to regulate the industry cannot levy a tax on profits when a newspaper breaches the ethical code drawn up by the industry.

Until such breaches come with a price-tag the marketplace will remain littered with people whose lives have been damaged by the cavalier attitude of the press to human tragedy. Our clients are those who fall foul of the media. They can testify to the lasting harm caused when papers turn with spiteful glee on those who take cheques from their rivals.

Buying exclusive rights is the antithesis of press freedom. Suggest that the practice be outlawed and the industry invokes the spirit of Wilkes. The same cry goes up if anyone has the temerity to say that the innocent victims of their circulation wars should be compensated.

If information is in the public interest it should not have a price-tag - and it should be the press who are reminding us, not Louise Woodward.

MIKE JEMPSON

Executive Director

PressWise

Bristol

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