Leveson Inquiry and PCC reform different, says Hunt

THE new chair of the Press Complaints Commission has refuted the suggestion that his own, ‘blank sheet of paper’ review of the PCC, is much the same exercise as that being undertaken by Lord Leveson’s inquiry into press standards.

Lord David Hunt was in Edinburgh earlier this evening, as one of two speakers at an event on media regulation, being hosted jointly by the RSA and the Faculty of Advocates.

He said he is due to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry next week. He was appointed chair of the PCC in October.

Following a wide-ranging presentation by both he and fellow speaker – Sir Philip Otton, a trustee of the Media Standards Trust – Hunt said, afterwards to allmediascotland: “You may recall that, right at the outset, Lord Justice Leveson issed a series of challenges to the press to put forward a solution which he could consider. And that’s exactly what I am seeking to do.

“The whole [Leveson Inquiry] is so-wide ranging and what I am seeking to do is put forward a structure, thinking carefully about the way in which recent events have illustrated the weaknesses in the current system of self-regulation, and then really trying to find a way through with a structure that is flexible enough that can look to Lord Justice Leveson to come up with a whole series of solutions.

‘It can’t be resolved overnight but we can at least start by putting forward to Lord Justice Leveson a structure which could provide the basis for a whole series of solutions.”

Earlier, Lord Hunt said he had approached his appointment as PCC chair as if with a ‘blank sheet of paper’, recognising the PCC could no longer operate in its current form.

Otton, meanwhile, argued for a third, additional way for a complaint againt a newspaper to be pursued: in addition to potentiallty lengthy and expensive litigation or a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, there could a legal recourse like a small claims court: where it costs little to pursue a complaint, that is dealt with quickly and with any damages not exceeding £15,000.

Both Hunt and Otton rejected a suggestion from the floor that being a newspaper editors ought to be like other professions, such as law, which requires the passing of exams and carries the risk of expulsion for serious malpractice.