The Press Complaints Commission closed on 8 September 2014 and has been replaced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). You can find full details of the new organisation, and how to complain, at www.ipso.co.uk
Please note that, though the Press Complaints Commission is no longer active, this site will continue to be maintained for a period in order to provide a record of the organisation's work.
Please contact IPSO for any other queries.
The Press Complaints Commission is an independent body, which has been set up to examine complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites). We are here to help you and our services are free.
This section of our website explains what we can deal with - and what we can't. It explains how our complaints procedures work and sets out what you can expect from us.
If anything is not clear please call us on 020 7831 0022 or 0845 600 2757 (a local-rate number). The FAQs page on this website should help to answer some of the most common questions people ask us. Additionally, this section provides guidance on particular aspects of the Code of Practice, including media harassment, discrimination and court and inquest reporting. We would also strongly advise you to read through our Procedures for the Consideration of Complaints.
Please remember that we are happy to offer informal advice prior to you lodging an official complaint. Contact us any time. For emergencies only (usually relating to harassment by journalists) please use our 24-hour helpline: 07659 152656.
If your first language is not English, information is available in a range of other languages. Please click here for more information.
Remember too that editors are often happy to deal with complaints directly. You may, therefore, like to try a direct approach before considering a formal complaint to the PCC. Any such approach should be made promptly. If you do not receive a reply within a week - or if you are dissatisfied by the editor's response - please write to us as soon as possible.
The PCC deals with all editorially-controlled material in UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites). This can include:
We also deal with the physical behaviour of journalists. This can include:
Please remember, however:
There are some things we don't deal with. For example:
The Links section of this website provides information about other regulatory and advice bodies that might be able to help.
When making a complaint please send us a copy of the article in question (if there is one) and a letter or email outlining your concerns. If there are other relevant letters or documents which would help us to assess the complaint, please send us these as well. For us to take your complaint forward it will need to engage one or more of the numbered Clauses of the Code of Practice. We can send you a hard copy of the Code if necessary. We advise that you read our Procedures for the Consideration of Complaints.
In the steps below we take you through the basic stages of our complaints procedure. Please note that each case is treated on its merits and the following guide is not exhaustive.
1. Assessing your complaint
If your complaint falls within our remit - and is neither delayed nor subject to related to legal proceedings (see 'Important points to remember', below) - we will assess whether it raises a possible breach of the Editors' Code of Practice. If we think it does not, we will explain why. If we think it does, we will initiate an investigation by writing to the editor of the relevant publication.
2. The investigation
When we write to the editor we will send him or her a copy of your complaint and a copy of the article about which concerns have been raised. We will ask the editor to respond to your complaint and a copy of his or her reply will be sent to you. It if still appears that there may have been a breach of the Code, our primary aim will be to a find a satisfactory resolution to your complaint. Editorial Commission members do not consider complaints relating to titles over which they exercise editorial control, or relating to titles with which they have close links (e.g. sister titles). If they report to an Editor-in-Chief, they will also not consider complaints against any titles under that executive's control.
3. Resolution by mediation
Depending on the seriousness of the case, there are a variety of ways in which complaints can be resolved. For instance, if a serious error has been published, a correction or apology in the paper may be required.
Alternatively, we can seek assurances about future coverage or perhaps look to have online material amended or deleted. We cannot generally obtain financial compensation. If your complaint is resolved, we will publish a summary of the case on our website. Click here to see examples of complaints that have been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant.
4. Taking stock
If it proves impossible to find a way of settling your complaint the Commission will evaluate the case. It will first decide whether there has, in fact, been a breach of the Code of Practice. If there has, it will decide whether the newspaper or magazine has taken - or offered - sufficient remedial action.
5. Complaint upheld
If the Commission concludes that the Code has been breached (and the breach has not - or cannot - be remedied) it will uphold your complaint in a public ruling. The newspaper or magazine is obliged to publish the critical ruling in full and with due prominence. This is a serious outcome for any editor and puts down a marker for future press behaviour.
Important points to remember
When we write to the editor we will have to identify you (unless there are exceptional circumstances). If you do not wish for your address details to be passed on to the newspaper or magazine, please say so at the outset of the complaint. However, you may remain anonymous in any public ruling or summary of your case.
Who can complain to the PCC
Wherever possible, the Commission will take forward complaints it receives, including those about factual inaccuracies from concerned readers. However, when the Commission receives a complaint from a member of the public that relates directly to a named or identifiable individual or group, it will - where appropriate - endeavour to contact the relevant person or group to explain its services and to ask whether they wish to complain. Where no complaint is made by the directly affected party (for whatever reason), it may not be appropriate to take forward a complaint from an unrelated individual for some or all of the following reasons:
In such cases, it is not possible to know what the party concerned would consider to be a suitable resolution without their involvement. Further, the Commission acknowledges that individuals have a right not to complain about matters that concern them.
The Commission may continue with an investigation or consideration of a complaint in such circumstances, either through a complaint from an unrelated individual or on its own behalf, when it believes that such an investigation or consideration is appropriate and in the public interest.
Our service commitments
When you make an enquiry or complaint to the PCC, we will seek to deal with your concerns as effectively as possible. In particular:
The PCC surveys complainants on an ongoing basis to assess the level of service it provides to complainants. You can see some of the feedback we have received by clicking here.
The Independent Reviewer
If, at the end of the process, you have concerns about the way your complaint has been handled by the Commission and its staff, you should write - within one month of being told the outcome of your complaint - to the Independent Reviewer.
He will investigate your concerns and report any finding and recommendations to the Commission. He cannot investigate complaints about the substance of a decision made by the PCC.