The Calcutt Report: Editor backs ethics code in reporters' contracts: Select Committee

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The Independent Online
OBSERVANCE of the newspaper industry's code of practice should be part of every journalist's contract of employment, Andreas Whittam Smith, the editor of the Independent, told the Commons national heritage select committee yesterday, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Mr Whittam Smith told the all-party committee of inquiry into media intrusion: 'If the committee recommended this, that would be a valuable stimulus for us.'

The suggestion came after Gerald Kaufman, the committee's Labour chairman, suggested that in newspaper offices copies of the code had remained in 'pristine condition, perhaps preserved under glass'. But while Mr Whittam Smith said some newspapers had 'unduly and wrongly' invaded people's privacy, legal measures should be confined to new laws against trespass, electronic eavesdropping and 'peeping Tom pictures'.

He warned that laws that curbed the use of leaked documents would 'sweep aside the whole valuable process that is whistle-blowing'.

'There are occasions when corrupt practices are only exposed when somebody, often a junior person, sends something to a newspaper.'

Packs of reporters descending on the scene or subject of a story, while sometimes 'regrettable', likewise had benefits, providing reports from the trouble spots of the world, such as Sarajevo, Mr Whittam Smith said.

The Press Complaints Commission would have to step up pressure on editors which, in turn, would influence newspaper proprietors.

Stewart Purvis, editor-in-chief of Independent Television News, rejected as 'unworkable' the idea of banning the photographing of people on private property without their consent.