Session 2007-08, 18 November 2008     


The Committee is announcing today a new inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel. The Committee seeks views on:

- Why the self-regulatory regime was not used in the McCann case, why the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has not invoked its own inquiry and what changes news organisations themselves have made in the light of the case;

- Whether the successful action against the Daily Express and others for libel in the McCann case indicates a serious weakness with the self-regulatory regime;

- The interaction between the operation and effect of UK libel laws and press reporting;

 -  The impact of conditional fee agreements on press freedom, and whether self-regulation needs to be toughened to make it more attractive to those seeking redress;

-  The observance and enforcement of contempt of court laws with respect to press reporting of investigations and trials, particularly given the expansion of the Internet;

- What effect the European Convention on Human Rights has had on the courts’ views on the right to privacy as against press freedom;

- Whether financial penalties for libel or invasion of privacy, applied either by the courts or by a self-regulatory body, might be exemplary rather than compensatory; and

- Whether, in the light of recent court rulings, the balance between press freedom and personal privacy is the right one.

The Committee will also examine other areas of interest that are raised during the course of its inquiry.

 Written submissions are invited from interested parties; these should be sent to Rowena Macdonald, Committee Assistant, at the address below by Wednesday 14 January 2009. 

  Guidance on submissions

1. Our strong preference is for submissions to be in Word or rich text format (not as a PDF document) and sent by e-mail to, although letters will also be accepted. Submissions sent by post should be sent to Rowena Macdonald, Committee Assistant, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. Please include a contact name, postal address and telephone number in the body of the e-mail or in the letter.

2. If the submission is from an organisation rather than an individual, it should briefly explain the nature and membership of the organisation. It is helpful to the Committee if paragraphs are numbered for ease of reference and if longer submissions include an executive summary, ideally no more than one page long. Submissions should be as short as is reasonably consistent with conveying the relevant information: for most submissions, six pages can be regarded as an appropriate maximum. Further guidance on preferred format can be found at:

3. Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries, for instance by publishing submissions on the internet. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this.

4. Please bear in mind that Committees do not normally investigate individual cases of complaint or allegations of maladministration.

5. Once submitted, no public use should be made of any submission prepared specifically for the Committee unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.