Phone Hacking and Toothless Tigers

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by Mark Irvine

Phone hacking has been the story making all the headlines for the past couple of days.  The issue that is fuelling public anger is the way in which ordinary people seem to have been targeted – people unlucky enough to have been caught up in some terrible tragedy or awful crime.

Investigative journalism has a proud tradition in the UK and has exposed many a hypocrite and wrongdoer over the years.

But there is a world of difference legitimate investigative journalism and casually intruding into people’s  private lives, especially the lives of everyday, ordinary people who don’t have the means or resources to fight back.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is the regulatory body that people can complain to, if you feel you have been badly treated by the press or media.

Unless you are rich and famous, of course, in which case you would head straight for the courts. 

But the PCC is stuffed full of self-important, establishment figures from the press and media who wouldn’t know the ‘public interest’, in my opinion, if it jumped up and bit them on the arse.

So whatever comes out of the phone hacking scandal a big step forward would involve sweeping away the Press Complaints Commission because it is widely seen as a ‘toothless tiger’.

What the industry needs and the public deserves is something similar to the Police Complaints Commission.

Which is taken very seriously and is seen to be independent of the police, and so has transformed the way in which complaints against the police are now handled.