The Press Complaints Commission has announced that a former Cabinet Minister is to be its new chair.
Lord David Hunt succeeds Barnoness Buscombe who announced in July she was stepping down, in the wake of criticism of the organisation for its handling of the News of the World phone-hacking allegations.
Hunt takes up his post on Monday. Currently chair of the Financial Services Division at the law firm Beachcroft, Hunt is a former MP for Wirral and, later, Wirral West.
Between 1979 and 1995, he held various government posts, including those of Minister for Coal, Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities, Secretary of State for Wales, Secretary of State for Employment and Minister for Public Service and Science.
In a PCC statement, he is quoted, as saying: “I am delighted I shall be leading the crucially important process of wholesale regeneration and renewal of the system of independent self-regulation of the press. My job is to ensure we create in due course an effective, genuinely independent standards body, which enjoys the overwhelming respect and support of the media, our political leaders and the general public.
“Throughout my political life I have fought for freedom of expression; and a free press is the distinctive and indispensable hallmark of any truly free, civilised society. I have no desire to live in a country where the legitimate, lawful investigative activities of the press are fettered at the whim of politicians. That would not be freedom at all.
“Those who work for newspapers or their digital off-shoots are, however, rightly bound by the law of the land, just like everyone else. They should also abide by recognised standards of professionalism, consideration and common decency.
“The PCC already plays an invaluable role, delivering fast, free and fair treatment of complaints from members of the public, as and when a newspaper has overstepped the line. There is a real appetite for change, however, and it is my intention to drive forward the creation of a reinvigorated and respected standards body, funded by the industry but operationally independent from both the industry and the state.”