PR supremo Max Clifford has claimed that investigative journalists are now “far too cautious” after the phone-hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry.
The Guardian reports today that Clifford reckons the MPs' expenses scandal would not have been uncovered by a newspaper in the post phone-hacking climate.
Clifford yesterday appeared before MPs and peers on the joint parliamentary committee on privacy and injunctions, and The Guardian quotes him as claiming: "Investigative reporters are not doing what they should be doing because they are frightened by what came out of News International.
"In the current climate you would not know about MPs and fiddling expenses. A lot of things like that wouldn't have come out in the current climate because editors have not got the desire to potentially antagonise people in powerful positions, in a way they wouldn't have thought about two years ago.
"They are far more cautious, there has definitely been a change. I am aware of many stories that would have made the front pages of tabloid papers in the last six months that haven't appeared anywhere."
The Guardian reports that Clifford was fiercely critical of the Press Complaints Commission, quoting him as saying he had "never known it to help anybody ... They are not independent. They are paid for by the media, they look after the media, end of story."
Clifford also described privacy injunctions as being purely for the rich, adding that there must be a situation where 'every ordinary man and woman has someone who will stand up for them', and that there was currently no one to do so, in in his view.
"The ordinary member of the public who is thrown into the spotlight, the Press Complaints Commission should go to them, make them aware of what is happening [and ask] do you want our advice and guidance before they are destroyed and labelled for the rest of their lives."
Clifford said any replacement body for the PCC had to be "totally independent and not in the hands of Fleet Street"