Newspapers will be named and shamed tomorrow in a league table of violations against the code governing the conduct of the press.
A powerful select committee of MPs will take the innovative step of listing the worst-offending editors and publications as they call for more rigorous controls and sanctions to be applied to the press, including fines for any breach of the Press Complaints Commission code.
The report, published by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, follows claims that the PCC is not an effective rein on the press. Critics cite the £50,000 damages awarded to the Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox after intrusive pictures of her on honeymoon were printed by The People, and the News of the World's role in a "sting" involving a supposed plot to kidnap the singer Victoria Beckham. Five men were cleared.
There are also fears that a failure to control "chequebook journalism" could lead to an escalation in the activities of people like Nadine Milroy-Sloan, jailed for three years last week for fabricating rape claims against Neil and Christine Hamilton in an attempt to make money. The judge in that case criticised the methods of the News of the World, which paid the woman £50,000 for her story.
MPs on the committee are expected to recommend a system of fines and, where people who have made a complaint are still dissatisfied, a backstop body to hear appeals.
Though the recommendations will be made to the Government, ministers have already signalled an unwillingness to amend the controversial Communications Bill - currently going through the House of Lords - to bring in new powers for the PCC.
Many editors, including those in charge of the tabloids responsible for the recent high-profile complaints, are staunch defenders of the PCC in its current guise. However, Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, has proposed the appointment of an ombudsman to act as a backstop to the PCC. That idea has provoked intense debate among newspaper editors, with some claiming it would compromise the freedom of the press.
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