Video: Clegg says PCC is “a busted flush” and “needs to be replaced”

(Also available on the BBC website here.)

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.”

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  • Can we please have a senior Lib Dem – Tim Farron, Simon Hughes, Ming Campbell – come out and say that the PM was wrong to employ Coulson and that he did make an error of judgement? It would be great if Nick could say it – but understand why politically that might not be sensible.

  • @KL – I really don’t think that the man and woman on the Clapham omnibus could care less about Coulson, and there are bigger issues here than transparent point-scoring. Better – as Simon Hughes is doing – keep up a stink to stop Murdoch extending his control of BSkyB. We need a more plural media in this country; that’s where we need to nudge this.

  • At last Nick Clegg emerges to say what many others have been saying for days. But it’s hardly earth-shattering stuff, is it?
    @KL – Hear, hear. And that he was ‘unwise’ (we need to be tactful about our highly respected Coalition partners, while twisting the knife really really hard in their backs!) to be at News International’s party less than three weeks ago (as was Milliband), and to go horseriding/spend Christmas with the CEO of News International. Let’s face it, allegations of serious wrongdoing at NI have been swilling around for years. Cameron has been, at the very very best, a naive and hapless pawn in a much larger power game. At worst, I suspect he and the NI Execs with whom he is best pals understand perfectly the way that papers who support him and the Tories (persuading millions to do likewise against their own interests) achieved access to profitable and populist stories, and that levers have been pulled to prevent investigation of those papers by the proper authorities. Thank goodness for the reputable press at The Guardian. I don’t agree with some of their more Labour-rose-tinted correspondents, but they deserve accolade after accolade for the way their investigative journalism has exposed the sleazy underbelly of Murdoch’s little empire, and forced the beginnings of a proper investigation. But the pressure needs to be kept up, or the key players will wriggle off the hook.

  • Adam Corlett 8th Jul '11 - 6:46pm

    “What we’ve not got to do is use those feelings…” should be “… NOW got to do…”!

  • Sorry, Nick, but that is FAR too weak.

    We need to be laying into the other two parties and their enslavement to Murdoch. This whole affair vindicates Vince Cable utterly and now is the time to say so.

  • Helen Duffett 8th Jul '11 - 7:09pm

    Thanks Adam – now edited.

  • Patrick Smith 8th Jul '11 - 7:54pm

    Simon Hughes and Tim Farron have now said unequivocally that they do not consider that it is in the public interest that the Mudochs to be deemed `fit and proper persons’ to takeover BSkyB.SW stated last night on BBC Questiontime that she believed the judicial enquiry into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal should start immediatley.

  • RC, while Clegg, and the Lib Dems in general, are fairly clean when it comes to Murdoch the bravest MPs, those who challenged Murdoch openly before the events of the last few days, were two Labour MPs, Tom Watson and Chris Bryant. Most of the rest, including every Lib Dem MP (honorable exceptions to former MP Evan Harris), only came skulking out of the bushes once the big bad man had fallen over. Apart from questions of the Prime Ministers judgement, ludicrously stupid, it’s probably for the best that this not be turned into a partisan affair. Labour and the Conservatives have been in bed with Murdoch, but it will take all three parties standing together to deal with him, even now.

  • “Most of the rest, including every Lib Dem MP (honorable exceptions to former MP Evan Harris), only came skulking out of the bushes once the big bad man had fallen over.”

    Errr, Vince (the BUSINESS SEC) was taped saying he wanted to destroy Murdoch. LD’s are even trying to ‘hurt’ Murdoch whilst in Govt, which is a lot more than the other parties can say.

  • Clegg gives a better account of lib dem position in the independent. Not quite in the strongest of language but a few good digs/points made. Particularly interesting is the bit where he admits that the guardian editor did come to warn him about Coulson ‘rumours’ but because it was a. Cameron’s appointment/decision not his and b. they had no prove. He couldn’t/didn’t do anything with it. At least he remembers!

  • @g

    And Vince Cable? He was actually trying to stop Murdoch, before he got it in the neck from another mouthpiece of the unaccountable (Lib Dem-hating) rich, the Daily Telegraph.

  • In the words of football fans throughout the country…. “we forgot that you were here”. On this, as on every other issue, for instance, health, and dont get me started on housing, the lib dems have disappeared.

  • Philip Young 9th Jul '11 - 4:54am

    And nobody seems to pick up the fact that Ed Milliband’s press spokesman and chief spin-doctor was also head-hunted from Murdoch’s News Interntional – exactly the same way as Andy Coulson. The phrase with pots…kettles comes to mind. Odd that the rest of the media havent highlighted this, given they know where he came from?

  • Ahh yes, Vince Cable, the man who had the chance to thwart Murdoch and blew it after flirting with two giggly young women from The Telegraph. Lost his power, lost his credibility and paved the way for the News Corp takeover (pending current events). Not really a good example of Lib Dems standing up to Murdoch I’m afraid.

    Phillip Young, perhaps its because the Coalition Cabinet is full of journalists, including long time News International and Times employee, Michael Gove? The only person accusing Tom Baldwin of unethical behaviour is Lord Ashcroft, and that’s not a man with the slightest bit of moral authority.

  • @Adrian Sanders

    Are you still a Lib Dem? Really thought you would have left by now, or has your Party left you?

  • Patrick Smith 9th Jul '11 - 11:31am

    A sharp ray of sunshine in Torbay UA for Mark Pountney the Lib Dem victorious Cllr.Something L/D must be going down well there.What is it and can it be bottled in Cockington with Chelston Ward and exported around the UK?

  • @Adrian Sanders

    Oh come on, anyone can play that game.

    I’ll see your Cockington With Chelston Ward and raise you Inverclyde….

  • Matthew Steeples 9th Jul '11 - 12:42pm

    You might find two pieces relevant on this subject that I’ve written. Take a look at this piece on the News of the World episode:

    And this one on the demise of the incompetent PCC:

  • “It happened with MPs, with the expenses scandal”

    Oh well, if it’s only a “total collapse in public confidence” on that scale there’s no great problem. All that’s needed is a period of public hand-wringing and heart-searching, a few (say half-a-dozen) scapegoats to be thrown to the wolves, a set of cosmetic reforms, and after a few months it’ll be safe to go back to business as usual.

    And everyone will be happily reading the “Sun on Sunday” …

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