Wakeham press position to remain in limbo

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Indy Politics

The body that funds and oversees the Press Complaints Commission will not decide on the long-term tenure of Lord Wakeham until his position in the Enron investigation becomes clear.

But a guarded statement from PressBof, the Press Standards Board of Finance, suggested that both Lord Wakeham's future and the question of his salary were the subject of dispute.

Lord Wakeham, the commission's chairman, made the decision to stand aside "honourably" while he helps in the investigation into the collapse of the American power company Enron. Lord Wakeham was a member of the firm's audit committee. He made the decision to step aside without discussing it with the commission.

Some members of the industry are believed to be alarmed at the prospect of paying Lord Wakeham's £156,000 a year salary indefinitely. His contract runs until June 2003.

The tangled affairs of Enron mean it could be years before he is able to resume his chairmanship, if ever.

There is also the question of what fee should be paid to Professor Robert Pinker, the academic who has been made acting chairman, and how it should be funded. PressBof said: "[We have] decided to review the position together with Lord Wakeham on an ongoing basis. The question of the longer term tenure of the chairmanship will be deferred until there is greater clarity of these matters." It said the chairman of PressBof would meet Lord Wakeham and Professor Pinker to discuss their salaries.

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