Leading article: A timely defence of press freedom

Share
Related Topics

The Press Complaints Commission should be applauded, in spite of the criticism heaped on it yesterday, for not upholding a complaint about a notorious Daily Mail article criticising the lifestyle of the pop singer Stephen Gately.

The gay rights group Stonewall suggested there was now little point in people from minority groups complaining to the PCC, a nonsensical conclusion. It compared the self-regulation of the press to a banking system without auditors or a mining industry without rules on health and safety. Such comparisons are absurd. For the PCC to attack articles on the grounds of taste, punishing those which its members find disagreeable, would be a step in the direction of censorship. The language used by columnist Jan Moir may have provoked a record 25,000 complaints but it was her lawfully held opinion. The Crown Prosecution Service examined the article and found no case to answer.

Much of the criticism of the PCC is made by people who fail to understand its role. Far from being "toothless", it criticised Moir's journalism, saying it was "uncomfortable" with the tenor of the piece and attacked the newspaper's editorial judgment in publishing the article the day before the singer's funeral.

But for the watchdog to have ruled in favour of the complainant, Gately's partner Andrew Cowles, would have meant newspapers no longer being able to publish opinions on matters of public discussion. That would have been a far greater social evil than the views of a single columnist, unpalatable as some may have found them.

Many people who complained appeared to have done so merely because they were upset by the writer's comments. And in a digital age where people can express their dislike of articles published by papers which they do not buy, thousands did by protesting online about Moir's column via Facebook and Twitter. But the British press is wonderfully diverse and the Mail is but one of 10 national daily newspapers, each with readers who have the right to stop buying the product.

It has become fashionable to knock the PCC but in this instance the commission, its new chairman and director have demonstrated commendable courage.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam