Changes introduced to Editors' Code of Practice

4 January 2012

With Lord Justice Leveson due to resume his inquiry into press standards on Monday, the New Year has already brought one important change to the way in which these standards are monitored and upheld.

On 1 January two changes to the Editors' Code of Practice — the document used to assess complaints made to the Press Complaints Commission - came into effect.

The first deals with the outcome of adjudications made by the Commission on complaints. Papers are currently obliged to publish the PCC's judgement in full when it has been found to be in breach of the Code by the Commission. However from henceforth the prominence of this publication will also be negotiated with the PCC's Director.

While Full Fact has in the past raised concerns about the adjudication judgements we have received to our complaints, the move is nevertheless a welcome one.

We hope that when complaints about inaccuracies are upheld by the PCC, the new guidelines will ensure that due prominence will be given to the background to the complaint, so that readers are able to fully understand how and why errors have been made, and why it is important that they are corrected.

A spokesperson for the Editors' Code of Practice Committee told Full Fact that due prominence could mean that the judgement appears in print and/or online, depending upon "whatever is appropriate for the circumstances".

The second change concerns the 'public interest defence', under which editors can argue that a breach of the Code was in the public interest.

In future, editors will have to show not only that they had good reason to assume that the public interest was being served when the breach occurred, but also how and with whom that conclusion was reached.

Full Fact has suggested other issues with the Code that the Editors' Code of Practice Committee might like to investigate in the future, including the way the PCC deals with the burden of proof when it comes to inaccuracies, and further clarification of the way in which the Code deals with a paper's duty to take care when reporting the facts.

The Committee is currently consulting on further changes to the Code of Practice, and Full Fact will of course be making a submission.

If you would like to contribute too, then send your thoughts by 31 January 2012 to Ian Beales at the address below (and do let us know too on

Ian Beales, Code Committee Secretary, PO Box 235, Stonehouse, Glos, GL10 3UF

Or by email to:

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