Speaking in Paris this afternoon, Nick Clegg has called the Press Complaints Commission “toothless” and said that it should be replaced, so that certain newspapers can never again act with complete impunity:
I think that what we’re seeing is a total collapse in public confidence in yet another pillar of the British establishment.
It happened with MPs, with the expenses scandal; it happened to the banking system when the banking system went up in smoke; it’s now happened to the police, to the media – and we’ve got to take the opportunity to clean the system up, and renew it, and put it on a completely different footing.
That doesn’t mean interfering in press freedom – I’m a passionate believer in press freedom. But we cannot ever again have this spectacle of people in certain newspapers acting with complete impunity – as if there’s one law for them, and another law for anyone else. You can’t have that much power given to people to make or break, often innocent people’s lives, with no accountability whatsoever.
And that’s why it is incredibly important we have a judge-led inquiry with real power and real teeth to look at all of these murky allegations about the relationship between the press and the police – not just News International, but the press as a whole – why we need to look at the whole architecture of the way in which the press operates.
Clearly the Press Complaints Commission is a busted flush, it’s toothless, doesn’t work and needs to be replaced.
So, I really understand and totally share the public’s dismay, disgust and anger. What we’ve now got to do is use those feelings into something which creates something better for the future.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his decision to employ the News of the World’s former editor, Andy Coulson, at Downing Street, saying, “People will decide.”