Now then: Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has resigned from the PCC code committee. Last week he said that the PCC report into the allegations that the News of the World had been hacking people’s phones was “dangerous to the press” and that it was behaving “uselessly” as a self-regulator.
That was last Monday, 9th November. But I wonder if Rusbridger’s mind was finally nudged in favour of resignation the following day, by the Human Rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC? Robertson was speaking at the launch of English PEN and Index on Censorship’s Campaign for Libel Reform, at the Free Word Centre. He had this to say on the subject of the media and the PCC:
The media … have for years committed a fraud on the public and on their readers by presenting this confidence trick of the Press Complaints Commission, as though it were a real court, as though it were significant. The Press Complaints Commission has been funded by the press, in order firstly to provide a poor person’s libel court (which has now gone by the board because now everyone who sues uses CFAs); it has been funded secondly to prevent the encroachment of the law of privacy – and its too late now, because we have a law of privacy: ill-designed, vaugely worded, European Gobbledegook for the most part, which is being implemented in a ham-fisted way by the judiciary.
So, there’s no point in the PCC. If the editors of Fleet Street had any real integrity they would withdraw. As Ian Hislop said, as the editor of the only organ that refuses to accept PCC judgements, he wouldn’t want to live up to the ethics of the newspaper editors who are on the PCC’s ethics committee!
Alan Rusbridger, crouched in the aisles and listening with a wry smile, duly reported some this criticism via Twitter.
— alan rusbridger (@arusbridger) November 10, 2009