Press Complaints Commission head to join Pagefield as regulator faces overhaul

The head of the Press Complaints Commission is set to leave the maligned body to take a top crisis comms agency role - after creating a blueprint for a new press watchdog in the Leveson Inquiry.

Stephen Abell: submitted a statement to the Leveson Inquiry (Getty Images)
Stephen Abell: submitted a statement to the Leveson Inquiry (Getty Images)

Stephen Abell, who last week called for newspapers to be fined for breaching standards as part of the ongoing judicial inquiry, is joining Pagefield in April as a crisis comms specialist.

Abell told PRWeek: 'I made the decision to move from the PCC last year. I've stayed to help the new chairman establish himself here and begin to work on a new-look organisation.

'Having given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and stated my case for the future of the PCC, now seems like the most fitting time to move on.'

The inquiry has seen Abell drawing up plans for a new regulatory body to replace the PCC, which would have the power to investigate allegations over phone hacking, press intrusion and illegal computer hacking, following outrage over the News of the World's alleged phone hacking.

Abell has also called for newspapers to be fined for breaching standards, stating that the new PCC will have to 'deal with complaints in a fast, economical way'.

Meanwhile, Abell - also known as Stig - has been planning his leap to Pagefield, the corporate comms and public affairs consultancy set up by former ITV and Camelot corporate affairs director Mark Gallagher. He makes the move after ten years at the PCC.

It has emerged that the PCC has appointed Michael McManus as its director of transition. McManus has worked as a director at Bell Pottinger, and has been a special adviser in three government departments in the 1990s, and from 1995 to 2000 was head of Edward Heath's private office.

Gallagher said: 'His media, issues and crisis management experience is second-to-none. Pagefield's offer goes from strength to strength and Stig's knowledge and expertise will be a huge advantage.'

Abell will lead the agency's new crisis and issues management service, joining advisory board director Sir Christopher Meyer, who is a former chairman of the PCC.

Abell and the PCC

  • Abell submitted a 408-page statement to Lord Leveson last week
  • The PCC is readying itself for an overhaul following criticism over the hacking crisis and press intrusion cases
  • At the Leveson Inquiry, victims of alleged press harassment including Kate and Gerry McCann, Sienna Miller and JK Rowling all gave evidence saying the body had failed to protect them.

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