|PCC chair Peta Buscombe is expected to be the next head to roll|
after the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Photograph: SWNS
The chair of the Press Complaints Commission, Peta Buscombe, appears about to be the next victim of the phone-hacking scandal. She is said to be preparing to make a formal announcement of her retirement today.
A source familiar with the situation has confirmed that her departure is imminent.
Lady Buscombe has faced criticism for the PCC's mishandling of the hacking saga since she took the post in 2009. In November that year she came under particular fire for a report in which the PCC appeared to clear the News of the World and admonished the Guardian and its reporter, Nick Davies, for revelations about hacking.
The PCC accepted the claim by News International that voicemail interceptions had been confined to a single reporter, Clive Goodman, and the investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
It concluded that there was "no new evidence" of hacking. Subsequent events proved otherwise, and MPs castigated the commission's report as a "whitewash".Buscombe rather lamely admitted later that the commission had not been "fully informed" and set up a hacking review committee in order to stave off further criticism.
But the unfolding of the revelations, with consistent sniping at her chairing of the regulator, left her exposed.
The prime minister, David Cameron, described the PCC as "ineffective" and lacking in public confidence, while the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, called it a "toothless poodle"
Buscombe pleaded that the commission should not become a "convenient scalp" of the hacking scandal, claiming its work had been "grossly undervalued" and called for "fundamental reform" and a "more independent PCC".
But her handling of the crisis in recent months has been viewed as ineffective, especially in parliament.
Within the newspaper industry there has been criticism too. One national newspaper editor said last week that the PCC's handling of the affair "was a disaster" and that "it was easy to run rings around Baroness Buscombe."
To make matters worse for Buscombe, she was embroiled in an embarrassing libel action brought by a lawyer who has represented several hacking victims, Mark Lewis. It ended with her paying damages and making a high court apology.
Buscombe, 57, a Conservative peer, was previously chief executive of the Advertising Association. She began her career as a barrister..