PCC receives record complaints fuelled by Madeleine McCann

LONDON - The Press Complaints Commission received a record 4,340 complaints about the press in 2007, buoyed by almost 500 complaints over Tony Parsons' Daily Mirror article about the Madeleine McCann investigation.

The number of complaints, equal to around 12 for every day of the year, was up 31% on 2006, according to the PCC's annual report.

Of those 4,340, the PCC ruled on 1,229, which was an increase of over 20% from 2006.

The PCC also reported a 347% increase in resolved complaints since 1996.

Parsons' article in the Daily Mirror received the highest number of complaints. He commented on the Portuguese police, people and Ambassador in the light of the Madeleine McCann investigation.

A record 485 readers complained, however, the article was not deemed to be in breach of the PCC's code.

Heat magazine caused the second highest number of complaints, 143, after it published a sticker that mocked Katie Price's disabled son Harvey.

Price, aka Jordan, made a formal complaint to the PCC after being contacted by the self-regulatory body, but subsequently withdrew her complaint when the magazine published an apology.

The PCC also dealt with a record number of complaints about privacy intrusion, which totalled 245 for the year.

The regulator said the striking rise in complaints indicated that it was succeeding in its mission to become more visible to the public. The PCC said the ease of complaining via email also may have contributed in the increase.

Sir Christopher Meyer, the chairman of the PCC, said: "Not only have we established ourselves as a fast and effective arbitrator of privacy disputes, discreetly settling over a hundred such complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant in 2007, but we also help prevent intrusions in dozens more cases with pre-publication advice and action to disperse media scrums.

"I believe that 2007 has shown, more than ever before, the PCC to be worthy of the increasing confidence that is being placed in us, by the industry, by the political establishment and -- most important -- by the members of the public who use our wide-ranging services."

Meyer added that the over half of the complaints in 2007, for the first time, concerned articles as they appeared online, not in the paper.

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