LETTER:PCC complaint

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The Independent Online
From Mr Mark Bolland

Sir: I will not anticipate any possible conclusions that Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, may reach about newspaper reporting of the Rosemary West trial - and in particular the issue of payments allegedly made to witnesses. But I must take issue with the comments about the PCC in your editorial "Keep cash out of the courts" (13 November).

You assert that the payment of witnesses in criminal proceedings violates the PCC's code of conduct. But it is not our Code of Practice: it is a code drafted by the newspaper industry. It is our responsibility to adjudicate on complaints made about possible breaches of the code - not to act as judge and jury, applying the rules as well as framing them.

Lord Wakeham is maintaining an extremely close eye on press reporting of the West trial and of allegations made about the conduct of newspapers. When we are in full possession of all the facts, then - and only then - will we be in a position to act, if indeed it is necessary for us to do so. The Independent really would have cause to complain if the industry's watchdog spoke first and thought later.

Yours faithfully,

Mark Bolland


Press Complaints Commission

London, EC4

14 November