"One of the difficulties I have experienced is the sense that you never meet face to face the people who are writing the horrible stuff," Leather said in an interview to be published in the Guardian's Society section on Wednesday. "Other people can say to you: 'A particular paper is out to destroy you', but there is never any personal interaction.

"I do think that the new press complaints body should require a journalist or editor to meet a complainant face to face, in the presence of a trained facilitator, so the complainant can explain the harm that this coverage has done to them or their family."

Restorative justice schemes have been pioneered in the criminal justice sector, whereby a convicted offender can be forced to meet their victim and be invited to apologise. The idea has spread to conflict resolution in workplaces, schools and the community.

Leather says complainants should be able to apply for a meeting with journalists found to have published damaging material. "They should have to account, if they can, for what they have written. And if they can't, explain what they are going to do about it to put it right.

"That approach has been shown in many different contexts to be extremely powerful not only to help prevent reoffending, but also to enable complainants to move on."

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