The chair of an Independent Press Review Group, which was consulted for part one of a Media Standards Trust review of UK media regulation in early February 2009, has responded to criticisms made by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) chair, Sir Christopher Meyer, and denied that the report was written in 'bad faith'.

The group's chair, Anthony Salz, who also sits on the Board of the Media Standards Trust, has replied to a letter from the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, Sir Christopher Meyer, sent on February 19.

In the letter sent on Wednesday March 11, which is published in full on the Journalism.co.uk Editors' blog, Salz said that the report had been made in good faith.

"You suggest that the review is not being undertaken in good faith because we did not ask you to contribute to what you describe as a strident report," Salz said. "This suggestion of bad faith is entirely unjustified," he continued.

Salz acknowledged a mistake made over the origin of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), but defended the report's use of PCC statistics.

"Our report acknowledges that you dispute the value of using adjudications as a measure (...) We feel, nevertheless, that the number of adjudications is important - since it is the only public sanction the PCC has," Salz wrote.

As well as addressing other criticisms made in Meyer's letter, Salz also outlined some some 'substantive questions' for the PCC which include:

  • "Would it not be preferable to avoid having working editors on the Press Complaints Commission (as distinct from those who have worked in journalism)?
  • "Would the position of the PCC as a regulator be assisted if it could be given greater powers to ‘enforce’ its decisions for the benefit of a complainant, making it more ‘competitive’ with the legal route?
  • "Why should the PCC not be covered by the Freedom of Information Act (assuming that it would be possible to protect the privacy of complainants who wanted it)?"
"We have been clear that our first report is a starting point for debate. Though I welcome your response, I do not accept your characterisation of our report," Salz wrote.

"I look forward to a discussion in the coming months of the issues raised about the future shape of press regulation," Salz said in the letter.

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