Number of complaints to doomed PCC boom in wake of Leveson

 

The Press Complaints Commission might be doomed but it is dealing with a rise in complaints amid the furious political negotiations over the future regulation of newspapers in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.

Complaints to the PCC rose to around 12,000 last year as Lord Justice Leveson completed his inquiry and published his report, a sharp rise of more than 63 per cent on 2011, the year when the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone created uproar over tabloid behaviour.

In the first two months of this year, there have been 1,131 complaints to the PCC, an increase of 3 per cent on the same period last year and up 12 per cent on 2011. The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the television presenter Vernon Kay, the Shadow Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and Lord Bell, the PR man, have been among those who have had complaints adjudicated in the past 12 months.

The increase in complaints comes in spite of the acceptance – both inside and outside the newspaper industry – that the PCC cannot continue in its current form. Parliament has approved a Royal Charter for a new regulator with tougher powers and a majority of newspaper publishers are backing an alternative charter which also calls for a stronger regulation body but one with greater independence of politicians.

Lord Hunt, the chair of the PCC, said that although he fully accepted there was a need for “radical changes” to the regulatory system, the statistics showed that many people still regard the commission’s complaints procedure as a viable remedy. “We should not lose sight of the invaluable work performed by the staff of the PCC and the existing complaints-handling and pre-publication functions, which operate very effectively indeed as a free public service,” he said. “Complaints numbers over the past year show that the public continue to use both the complaints and pre-publication services of the PCC in large numbers.” Some 76 per cent of complainants to the PCC say they are happy with the outcome.

Last year’s statistics were swollen by around 4,000 complaints over the publication by The Sun of naked photographs of Prince Harry on holiday in Las Vegas. Another Sun article, on the appointment of England football manager Roy Hodgson, prompted around 2,000 complaints after it appeared to mock Hodgson’s speech impediment with the headline “Bwing on the Euwos”. Neither case led to a PCC adjudication because neither the Royal Family nor Hodgson made a complaint to the commission.

Such examples of multiple complaints suggested that the PCC remains a favourite mechanism for Internet-based campaigns against perceived tabloid excesses, although neither case was on the scale of the 25,000 complaints made over a Daily Mail article on the death of singer Stephen Gately in 2009.

Although most coverage of the PCC concerns its adjudications relating to famous people, about 95% of those brining complaints to the commission have no claim to celebrity.

Mr Brown complained to the PCC after a column by Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun had carried the claim that the former Prime Minister had accused the paper of “blagging” his son’s medical records. After the intervention of the PCC, The Sun published an apology saying “we were wrong to use this erroneous allegation”.

Vernon Kay had a complaint upheld against Reveal magazine after an article based on the word of an anonymous “close friend” claimed he was “walking on eggshells” in his marriage to TV presenter Tess Daly after his admission to sending flirtatious text messages and that the couple were “living increasingly separate lives”. Lord Bell brought a complaint against the Independent, arguing that the use of subterfuge in exposing his company’s working practices had not been justified. The PCC rejected the complaint.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Digital Printing Trainee / Computer Graphics

£8000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have an interest in compu...

Recruitment Genius: Content / Copy Writer

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has bec...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee with experience in science communication

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: The Society for Expe...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin