Thursday, 13 January 2011

PCC drops outstanding complaints against Express, Star

Two days ago it was announced that all publications owned by Northern and Shell (N&S) would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Press Complaints Commission.

However, one reader of this blog has been told by the PCC that they are also dismissing all unresolved complaints - lodged prior to the announcement - against the Daily Express and Daily Star.

He complained to the PCC on 9 December about one article in the Express and one in the Star. On 16 December he was told:

Your complaint will now be passed to the Commission with a view to it making a ruling under the Code. We would hope to be in touch with you with a decision within the next thirty five working days.

After hearing the news of a couple of days ago, he asked the PCC what was going to happen with his complaints. Here's their response:

Thank you for your email yesterday in regard to your complaint against the Daily Star and Daily Express.

The PCC formally considers complaints about the vast majority of UK newspapers and magazines, provided that they subscribe to our funding body, the Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBof).

Owing to a funding dispute between Northern & Shell – the publishers of the newspapers – and PressBof, Northern & Shell do not currently subscribe to the system of self-regulation independently overseen by the PCC. As you correctly noted in your email, the Daily Star and Daily Express do not therefore fall under the Commission’s jurisdiction. I understand that you submitted your complaint prior to the withdrawal of the publishers’ subscription and the office informed you that the Commission would make a ruling on the complaint.

Unfortunately, the Commission did not reach a decision in regard to your complaint before Northern & Shell withdrew its subscription to PressBof and, now that the newspapers do not fall under the Commission’s jurisdiction, it is unable to do so. I understand that this must be frustrating for you, and I apologise that the Commission did not reach a decision while the newspapers still fell under its jurisdiction.

In the circumstances, you may wish to complain directly to the publications. If you wish to do so, their contact details are as follows:

Daily Express
The Northern & Shell Building, 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EN
Switchboard Tel: 020 8612 7000 / News Desk Tel: 020 7098 2982
Editor: Peter Hill

Daily Star
The Northern & Shell Building, 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EN
Switchboard Tel: 0208 612 7000 / News Desk: 0208 612 7373
Editor: Dawn Neesom

You may also wish to consult a solicitor on the matter. If you would like the PCC to forward your complaint directly to the publication, please let us know.

I am sorry that we are unable to assist you further. Do contact us if you have any queries.


  1. An absurd decision, which further shows how wooly the PCC is and its marked separation from the world of real and professional decision adjudication.

    One of the key principles in any such system is that you cannot take account of events after the date of the incident under investigation. This is why you can sue someone's estate after their death, for example.

    The proper thing to do would obviously be to continue the adjudication and issue a decision as it applied to the situation at the time of the complaint. What the Express then does with that ruling is up to them.

  2. As defamation reform is in the air - and a fairly successful campaign by the press is going to achieve a more defendant friendly law - leaving claimants who are not all great and powerful and not all multinational companies - with less chance of success - is it not time to create a statutory system with a PCC and a Press Ombudsman's Office to deal with complaints and a requirement that all publications register with the Office - a quid pro quo
    Howard Johnson


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