Press complaints surge to a record high

More people complained about the British Press last year than in any other since the Press Complaints Commission was founded sixteen years ago.

Ahead of releasing details to its figures for 2007, officials at the PCC yesterday said that they dealt with 4,340 complaints, a rise of nearly a third from 2006.

The record year was partly attributed to two articles, but even without these high-profile cases, the British press would still have had their most criticised year ever.

And the number of complaints could have been even higher: the commission said it placed more emphasis in 2007 on sorting out problems before publication.

Such tactics from the PCC, which was set up to give citizens more recourse against the press, included an anti-harassment service and dispersing media scrums.

However the approach didn’t prevent hundreds of people finding fault with a comment piece in showbiz magazine Heat as well as a column published in the Daily Mirror.

Authored by Tony Parsons, the column is officially the piece of journalism people were irked about the most in 2007, and attracted 485 complaints.

Headlined, “Oh up yours, senor” Mr Parsons critically reflected on the investigation by Portuguese authorities into the disappearance of Madeline McCann, who remains missing.

Meanwhile Heat magazine chose to offer its readers a sticker, alongside an editorial, of Jordan’s five-year-old son, prompting 143 complaints from the public.

Proving the effectiveness of the PCC, which critics have questioned, the Heat case has now been resolved, while the Daily Mirror case is reportedly near to resolution.

Sir Christopher Meyer, its chairman, believes there is “growing confidence” among the public in what the commission has to offer.

He said: “This now ranges from confidential settlements…apologies, to formal rulings against newspapers and magazines, many of which took forward our case law on the vexed question of where to set the boundary between private life and information that is legitimately in the public interest.”


17th January 2008

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