Media: Wakeham promises tough new privacy rules

Lord Wakeham has promised that the Press Complaints Commission's new code will impose the toughest restrictions on newspaper behaviour, writes Paul McCann.
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Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, promised the toughest tightening of the rules governing newspaper behaviour after yesterday's a meeting of the PCC code committee.

The new rules are likely to outlaw completely the use of photographs taken on private property, but may add protection from harassment of people in churches and restaurants. It is also likely to strengthen the protection of minors from any press coverage without their parents' consent. Agreement on respecting the privacy of Princes William and Harry is also expected.

The new code is expected to be ready after a full meeting of the PCC on 24 September.

In a statement following the meeting yesterday, the committee said it was undertaking an "urgent" review of the code. "The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, has focused unprecedented public attention on press intrusion, harassment and respect for privacy," it said. "As those charged with defining the Code of Practice, which sets the benchmarks for the ethical and professional standards of journalism, we recognise this.

"We are now undertaking an urgent review of the code.

"As an industry we emphasise the need for the code to be followed not just in the letter but in its full spirit.

"We support Lord Wakeham's calls for wide-ranging and rigorous reforms and recognise that there is a shared determination to rid our publications of practices which we all deplore."

Lord Wakeham described the meeting as "very constructive", adding: "I am on course to make a full statement next week. The paparazzi is part of the problem, in the sense that it is the conduct of photographers generally we want to put right."

Referring to criticisms of the media made by Earl Spencer at his sister's funeral, he said: "Earl Spencer's views are very well known to me. He is very concerned about these issues."