Tabloid editor calls for review of press code

CALLS for tougher restrictions on press reporting came from inside and outside the newspaper industry at a meeting called yesterday by the Association of British Editors, writes Michael Leapman.

Bill Hagerty, editor of the People, said the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice probably needed tightening while two Labour MPs, Clive Soley and Joe Ashton, said it was absurd for editors to rule on complaints against their colleagues.

Mr Hagerty, whose newspaper's revelations about David Mellor's private life contributed to the current debate about press standards, said: 'We have to take stock and examine how we can regain the trust of the public.' But he criticised newspapers that have attacked the tabloids. 'What we have is an Establishment army containing a battalion or two of journalists - a civil war, or rather an uncivil war.' He supported press self-regulation but said that it must be based on 'decency and common sense' rather than on how the Establishment thought the press ought to behave.

Mr Soley, who plans a Private Member's Bill aimed at establishing a statutory independent press authority, said that people did not trust the press. A recent opinion poll shows that 51 per cent of people believe that newspapers behave irresponsibly.

'The Press Complaints Commission is not going to be effective while it is very largely the creature of journalists,' he said.