After a decade and a half of advising people on their car insurance, the famous talking dog Churchill is to take up the hotly-debated role of independent press watchdog advocated by Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press standards.
‘It is important that this new regulatory body is independent of newspapers and the government, and is headed by a figure who commands public respect. Churchill meets both these criteria,’ said Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, today. ‘I met him this morning to ask whether he supported a tougher form of self-regulation of the press with a robust statutory underpinning, and he nodded his head and said ‘Oooh yes’.’
In his new role as press watchdog Churchill will be able to investigate complaints, impose fines and demand corrections or apologies. It is understood he will be supported by Martin Clunes who will take day-to-day responsibility for examining complaints about the conduct of the press, with Churchill overseeing the operation of the regulatory body while riding a lawnmower up and down in the background.
A series of adverts to explain the complexities of the new regulatory system has been welcomed by the press. In the first a newspaper editor asks, ‘Oi, Churchill! Can you save me money on my legal bills by advising me not to hack the phones of murdered schoolgirls?’, to which the popular dog nods his head and replies, ‘Oooh yes’. In the second he is asked by Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, ‘Can you get us off our charges of perverting the course of justice?’, leading Churchill to shake his head ruefully and say ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no’.
However, Russian newspaper magnate Alexander Lebedev has complained that Churchill may not be the right person for the job. ‘Meerkats could perform the role just as well and for a lower monthy premium,’ he said. ‘Just check out CompareTheWatchdog.com. It’s simples.’