The Media Standards Trust believes the decision of Baroness Buscombe not to continue beyond her current term as chair of the Press Complaints Commission is the right one.
As we have previously argued, the fundamental problems of the PCC are structural – in terms of its lack of independence from the industry, the opacity of its funding arrangements, and its lack of adequate formal powers.
But there has clearly been a failure of leadership at a time when the PCC needed firm direction. Not only did the outgoing chair preside over a wholly inadequate investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World (which the PCC finally withdrew on 6th July 2011), but she criticised The Guardian for its investigation and had to pay damages following a libel action by the lawyer, Mark Lewis.
It is important that the good work of the Commission’s staff is allowed to continue, and this decision is in no way allowed to hamper their valuable mediation. At the same time, however, Baroness Buscombe’s departure should not deflect the need for, and serious discussion about, the comprehensive reform of the self-regulatory system.