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Press Attitudes 90s

1990

This article from '' in June 1990 highlights the negative attitudes and language used by the press when reporting gay issues.



GOVERNMENT TELLS PRESS TO CLEAN UP ITS ACT

The government has given the press "one last chance" to put its house in order and to accept self regulation. The Home Secretary, David Waddington, has accepted the main recommendations of the Calcutt Committee, which proposes that the Press Council should be abolished and replaced by a stronger Press Complaints Commission. This will be a smaller independent body whose first duty will be to respond to public complaints and not to safeguard press freedom. Complainants will no longer be asked to waive their legal rights. The commission will have powers to initiate its own enquiries and to award compensation.

Also proposed is the introduction of three new criminal offences to prevent press intrusion into privacy on private property or the planting of bugging devices. Along with these provisions is a new beefed up code of professional and ethical standards for the press to follow. For the first time the code will forbid mention of a persons sexual orientation unless it is directly relevant to the story. The code further prohibits prejudicial or pejorative, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental handicap.
The Calcutt commission rejected any statutory right to reply, civil remedy against -infringement of privacy or any extension of the law on defamation.

The Home Secretary warned that if the press failed to abide by the new code or to take notice of the new Complaints Commission then stronger legislative measures would be necessary. The Calcutt Committee's finding was generally welcomed by all sides of the House of Commons and the recommendations are expected to be in force within 18 months.
Two recent cases of press distortion and intrusion into privacy were singled out for special mention. The allegations in The Sun about 's supposed affair with a rent boy, which resulted in the paper eventually paying 1 million in compensation to Elton and the incident when "journalists" from the Sunday Sport disguised as doctors entered the room of actor Gordon Kaye while he was seriously ill.

Contributed by: Outburst, 18

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