HC Deb 29 June 1998 vol 315 cc1-2
1. Mr. Clive Soley (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush)

What meetings he has had with the Press Complaints Commission to discuss the effectiveness of the PCC code. [46311]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

I have had a number of meetings with Lord Wakeham, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission. I welcomed the strengthening of the code of practice that was agreed on 19 December 1997, and I have made it clear that further changes should be considered to protect people in all walks of life.

Mr. Soley

I welcome that answer, but I ask the Secretary of State to bear in mind the needs of children. For example, on 7 May the Daily Mail named and photographed a four-year-old child on its front page just because her mother had been sent to prison in unusual circumstances. Would the PCC not be more convincing if it intervened after publication to point out to editors that such cases fall well below the standards expected both in normal life and under the PCC code?

Mr. Smith

I know that my hon. Friend has corresponded with the newspaper concerned in that case. The PCC code agreed last December extends protection to children of school age, unless there is an overriding public interest in publishing details about them. Both the procedures followed by the PCC and complainants, and the nature of the public interest test require further consideration in the coming months.

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