Page last updated at 23:25 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 00:25 UK

Record year for press complaints

Line of photographers
The PCC said it often managed to prevent a "media scrum"

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) watchdog has dealt with a record number of complaints in the last year.

In 2007 it received a total of 4,340 complaints, an increase of 70% since 1996 and 31% more than 2006.

It said the rise was not due to a collapse in standards but a growing awareness of the body's work and the ease of complaining via e-mail.

Its chairman said the growth of newspaper websites meant it had to approach its job very differently.

Sir Christopher Meyer said in the PCC's annual report: "It is our continuing duty at the PCC to uphold high standards, not least through providing effective remedies to the victims of bad journalism.

"But it will, against the background of proliferating news sources, be increasingly our role to help the consumer choose between what can be trusted and what cannot."

Sir Christopher said the PCC's record number of complaints during the last year had also included a record number regarding issues of privacy.

Decreasing standards?

Some 100 of the complaints about privacy had been settled to the satisfaction of the complainants in 2007 and the PCC had dealt with dozens more cases with pre-publication advice, he said.

But Sir Christopher said the increase was not due to decreasing standards.

It was instead down to the growing understanding of the watchdog's work, the ease of complaining by e-mail and the extension of the PCC's remit to cover material on websites run by newspapers and magazines, he said.

The annual report goes on to explain how the watchdog helped a number of people involved in high-profile cases, including the family of Garry Newlove, who was killed outside his home after going out to tackle youths damaging his car.

Katie Price and Harvey in August 2003
A Heat magazine sticker involving Katie Price's son prompted complaints

The PCC sent editors a note from the family saying that they did not wish to be contacted during the course of the trial of those accused and Cheshire Police described the desist notice as "hugely successful".

The report concluded the total of 4,340 complaints was inflated by multiple complaints about just two articles.

One by Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror under the headline "Oh, up yours senor", which was critical of the Portuguese Madeleine McCann investigation, sparked 485 complaints.

A sticker given away in Heat magazine, which made fun of the disabled son of Katie Price, also known as glamour model Jordan, received 143 complaints.

According to the PCC, the majority of complaints in 2007 related to online articles.

Some 75.4% of the total concerned accuracy, 9.2% regarded issues of privacy, and 6.6% were in response to alleged intrusion into grief or shock.

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