By Hugh Grant.
Here are the top two myths being propagated by elements of the press industry desperate to avoid accountability about IMPRESS and the Leveson system. Both of these feed into the press’ dishonest campaign against section 40.
“We will be getting state regulation of the press”.
State regulation means direct government involvement in dictating or policing what the press is allowed to write. In the Leveson system, government and all politicians are explicitly and entirely excluded from the whole process.
Parliament has simply approved and implemented the findings of the Leveson Inquiry: a system whereby a wholly independent panel selected a wholly independent recognition body that can examine and then “recognise” any regulator which is set up by, or on behalf of, the press itself. That regulator simply has to demonstrate that it is both independent and effective to be recognised.
This is because the press has a shocking track record of setting up its own toothless regulators, which have consistently failed to protect the public from egregious abuses of its own ethical codes.
Leveson also proposed incentives to encourage newspapers to create and join a “recognised” regulator (see below). So the only parliamentary (or “state”) involvement was a Royal Charter to create a wholly independent recognition body; and the creation of incentives through section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
The Royal Charter explicitly states that a recognised regulator must have no power “to prevent the publication of any material, by anyone, at any time.”
“Newspapers are being coerced into joining Max Mosley’s IMPRESS”.
Newspapers are being incentivised to create and join a new regulator that is independent of both government and industry control. The criteria for such an independent regulator are set out in the Royal Charter. So far, Impress – whose founder and Chief Executive Jonathan Heawood is a long-standing free speech campaigner – is the only regulator to be formed which meets those criteria. It is not a state regulator. It was not set up by government. The state has no role or influence in its appointments or in its operations.
Any publications are free to set up and fund their own recognised regulator. If the industry was genuinely prepared to commit itself to an effective and independent regulator, it could change the rules of IPSO and ensure it was recognised in the same way as Impress.
In fact, Impress is funded by a charitable trust set up by Mosley in memory of his son, Alexander. Under charity rules, Mosley himself has no influence whatever in how Impress works or spends its money. This is in stark contrast to IPSO which is not only funded but owned and controlled by the newspapers it regulates.
These are not easy issues to explain, but the overall truth is very simple. The press is attempting once more to wriggle out of all reasonable attempts to hold it to account for the abuses which it continues to inflict on ordinary people.
Section 40 is what makes this system a reality, and guarantees access to justice for ordinary people. Please consider writing in to support its commencement.