Diana 1961-1997: The reaction - Editors start work on new privacy code

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The Independent Online
Moves to tighten the Press and media's code of practice over privacy will begin in earnest this week.

Sir David English, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice committee, insisted today that the Press must heed the stinging rebuke of the media by Earl Spencer during his tribute to his sister at Saturday's funeral.

Tony Blair said during a BBC interview yesterday that he hoped newspaper editors would not subject Prince William to the kind of media bombardment endured by Diana.

But he went on to say: "I've never been convinced about privacy laws, I don't think you ever get to the stage of saying you're ruling anything out, but I personally think ...it requires [of editors] a degree of acceptance of what is proper conduct towards people."

PCC chairman Lord Wakeham announced a tour of tabloid editors' offices this week as he begins to work on proposals for reform, although self- regulation was still being seen as the way-ahead.

It appeared last night that Lord Spencer's electrifying tribute to his sister on Saturday, with its no-holds barred attack on the Press, was the final spur needed to prompt at the very least a fresh stab at tougher self-regulation.

He vowed to protect Princes William and Harry from the harassment which had caused his sister such anguish and all but driven her out of Britain. And he accused the Press of turning Diana into "the most hunted person of the modern age".

Sir David, chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, said: "I think we in the Press have got to listen very much to what Spencer said. You can't ignore him."

He said he believed the Press must not be so hard on the Royals in the way they reported things.

But he insisted that, if the focus was set to shift onto Diana's elder son, William, all of the British Press had a very good record: in the last two years they had kept to the rules of a deal in which they had promised not to use paparazzi pictures of William in return for formal pictures.

"I think that will continue and, speaking for Associated Newspapers, we will never use them - we will never use paparazzi pictures of William while he is growing up.

"And I don't think that any other paper will either. This is something the PCC and self-regulation will now have to make work - and we will," Sir David said.