Camillagate tapes deplored

THE PRESS Complaints Commission, regulator of the newspaper industry, issued a statement yesterday 'deploring' the publication of the 'Camillagate' tapes.

At the close of its regular monthly meeting, the commission concluded that bugging of private telephone calls was an invasion of privacy and therefore contrary to the newspaper industry's code of practice.

But it recognised that exceptional circumstances might arise justifying publication, and called for clarifying legislation.

The statement followed a decision against a formal investigation into the taping and publication of a transcript of a conversation, allegedly between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.

Both parties had declined to co- operate with an investigation.

Yesterday's statement said: 'Bugging of private telephone calls is manifestly an invasion of privacy, no matter who does it. As such, it is contrary to the industry's code and the commission deplore the publication of the so- called Camillagate tapes.

'We recognise, however, that unethically and illegally obtained material may still be published abroad and republished in Britain.

'We also recognise that exceptional circumstances may arise which would justify the publication. For these reasons we think it is essential that there should be legislation defining the boundaries of the law.

The statement added: 'The commission believe that such legislation on clandestine listening devices should apply to all citizens and not only to journalists.'

In a second statement, the commission rejected Sir David Calcutt's proposals for a statutory tribunal to regulate the press.

But it proposed changes to toughen the existing system of regulation to appease public and parliamentary demand.

It agreed that the make-up of the commission should change to include a majority of lay members to underline to the public the PCC's independence.

It also urged editors to endorse a 'strengthened' code of practice that would be recognised as fair by the public and Parliament.

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