Beleaguered head of press watchdog to stand down

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The Independent Online

The peer who presided over the now-discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC) report into phone hacking at the News of the World is to stand down from the watchdog.

Baroness Buscombe said she will not seek to extend her tenure as PCC chairman beyond the end of her three-year term which expires in January. She will leave as soon as a replacement is found.

She has faced sustained criticism as the extent of the phone hacking at the NOTW emerged. Under her leadership, the PCC released a report in 2009 stating that there was "no evidence" to suggest the practice of phone tapping was widespread at the paper. The report was subsequently withdrawn.

Yesterday, Lady Buscombe said she wished to contribute to Lord Justice Leveson's judicial inquiry into phone hacking and "participate fully in the overall debate regarding reform, unfettered by my role as chairman of the PCC".

Lord Leveson will examine whether the PCC is fit for purpose – and what possible form of press regulation could replace it.

Her decision to quit increases the chances that the PCC, under new leadership, can survive the review.

Announcing her decision, she stressed the need for the embattled PCC to continue its work rather than introducing "statutory intervention".

The Media Standards Trust said Lady Buscombe's decision to stand down was "the right one", explaining: "There has clearly been a failure of leadership at a time when the PCC needed firm direction."

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