Fines 'will not boost confidence in press'
PRESS Ombudsman John Horgan has rejected the notion of imposing fines on errant publications saying it would not help public confidence in the industry.
Issuing fines has been recommended in the UK by Lord Black, chairman of the funding body of the British Press Complaints Commission.
Lord Black has advocated self-regulation, rather than statutory regulation of the press, and wants any new regulator to have the power to summon editors to give evidence, launch investigations and issue fines of up to £1m (€1.2m).
However, speaking at a meeting of the Society of Editors in Belfast, Mr Horgan said he would be slow to endorse a policy of imposing fines.
"If you put a price on misbehaviour, the unscrupulous will always be willing – and many of them will also be able – to pay it. I very much doubt that such a system would reinforce public confidence in the press to the extent that its advocates imagine.
Mr Horgan said it was not appropriate for the Press Council and similar organisations to investigate actions which raise the issue of possible criminal behaviour.
"In my experience, readers whose complaints have merit get satisfaction if their legitimate expectations are met in two areas: an independent Ombudsman, council or redress mechanism that operates swiftly and fairly, and a press industry that engages generously with its critics in applying the same standards of accountability to itself that it expects of others," he said.