A polite round of applause for the Press Complaints Commission

We’ve often covered the issue of press standards on Lib Dem Voice, including posts such as those from myself calling for the Press Complaints Commission to be reformed – which was also the subject of a speech I gave at party conference. So it is only fair to give credit where some is due – as it is in the case of the PCC ruling against the Daily Star:

The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint against the Daily Star about an article titled “Muslim-only public loos”, ruling that it was inaccurate and misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The front-page article had reported that a Rochdale shopping centre had installed “Muslim-only squat-hole loos” and that the local council had wasted “YOUR money” on them. The complainant argued that as the facilities would be available to everyone, it was inaccurate to state they were “Muslim-only”.

The Daily Star story was originally run on page 1 and it is a frequent complaint that correction or ruling on stories get much less coverage than the original error. In this case, the ruling ran on page 2, in a coloured box and clearly marked as a ruling about what the paper had done. That is much better than is often the case (though I strongly suspect that if page 1 errors resulted in page 1 rulings we would see quite a change in some quarters).

The other reason for giving the PCC some credit in this case is that the Press Complaints Commission took it up despite neither Rochdale Council nor the shopping centre lodging a complaint. The PCC has often been criticised in the past for its unwillingness to pursue cases where someone directly involved has not raised them, such as when someone in the public eye does not want to confront the media in public or when a wider group of people are affected by a story even if not personally named in it. In this case, the PCC pursued the case despite neither of the direct parties raising it, which is welcome and a promising sign for the future.

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