In the aftermath of the News of the World’s apology to phone hacking victims lawyer Mark Lewis has written Baroness ‘Bungler’ Buscombe, chair of the Press Complaints Commission, demanding that she apologise to the Guardian newspaper, journalist Nick Davies and withdraw the PCC’s report into phone hacking published in November 2009. The PCC had previously dismissed allegations of widespread phone hacking and criticised the Guardian’s reporting of the scandal (led by Davies), concluding they ‘did not quite live up to the dramatic billing they were initially given’.
The last time Lewis crossed swords with Baroness ‘Bungler’ Buscombe and the PCC, the PCC was forced to pay out £20,000 in libel damages. Yet remarkably Bungler used an interview on Radio 4’s Media Show to deny the apology that had been forced out of her (about 22mins in) and, apparently, that damages had been paid. This remarkable denial of reality may yet see her dragged before the courts again. Mark Lewis says he’s reserving his position on that one; readers of this blog will know that he has his hands full suing the Metropolitan Police over the same incident.
While Mark Lewis doesn’t quite call for Baroness ‘Bungler’ Buscombe to resign, it is hard to see how the battered Press Complaints Commission can afford to leave the Tory peer in charge. Being headed up by a bungling chair so closely associated not just with excusing illegal activities at the News of the World, but with attacking those who have exposed those activities, can only help those who would replace the PCC with an effective regulator.
Download Mark Lewis’s letter to Baroness Buscombe