Can you believe sham press complaints-handler IPSO has the gall to throw a five-year anniversary party next Tuesday? They have absolutely nothing to celebrate.


Over the last five years IPSO has failed thousands of individuals affected by press abuse. We were promised million-pound fines, and powers of investigation, yet in five years of operation, they haven’t imposed a single fine or conducted one standards investigation.


If you’re a victim of press abuse and IPSO failed you, share your story on Twitter and/or Facebook using #5YearsOfFailure. 


Last month IPSO announced that publishers have renewed their membership of IPSO for a further five years.

The complaints-handler, which does not meet Leveson’s minimum requirements for a competent regulator, has recently announced that its Chairman Sir Alan Moses will be replaced by Lord Faulks, who sat on a party political basis before his appointment was confirmed, which begins on January 1st 2020.

The fact that newspaper publishers have signed up for another five years – in the knowledge that their coverage will be regulated by a politician from January – should be concerning to anyone who believes in freedom of the press.

IPSO gloss over the detail that, in fact, two publications are leaving IPSO – CityWire and Connect.


Five ways IPSO has failed the public:


1)  Hundreds of individuals affected by press abuse without remedy.  IPSO is neither independent, nor effective – leaving individuals affected by abuse in the press with nowhere to turn.  Read their stories here.

2)  Abuse of marginalised groups in the press.  IPSO won’t even consider discrimination complaints about coverage targeting groups of people.  Millions of people can be affected in this way. Some of the most serious abuse affects Muslims, travellers, transgender people, and other LGBT people.

3)  Putting a politician in charge of press regulation.  This is exactly what IPSO did, when Lord Faulks’ appointment was announced.  Lord Faulks was a partisan Member of the House of Lords before his appointment as Chair of IPSO was announced, and he was even in Government only a few years ago.  Press freedom advocates around the world recognise that politicians should not be in charge of press regulation, and the Leveson model prohibits it.

4)  Failure to change.  When first appointed, the incumbent Chair Sir Alan Moses promised significant changes at IPSO.  The reality has been few reforms at all, with almost all changes being purely cosmetic or having the most insignificant practical effects.

5)  Zero regulation. Based on the number of complaints “handled” in 2015 and 2016, IPSO has likely had more than 50,000 claims brought to it in the last five years. Of them, IPSO has presided over zero investigations, zero fines, and zero arbitration claims.  It has, however, lobbied on behalf of press interests.  But it has completely failed to regulate.


Five years of failing the public

Today’s announcement marks five years since IPSO was established, in rejection of Leveson’s recommendations.

Its origins can be traced back to a plan for regulation submitted to the Leveson Inquiry by Lords Hunt and Black – both involved with the previous body which collapsed at the time of the Inquiry, the PCC.  Leveson rejected their proposal on the grounds that it was not sufficiently independent or effective.  Instead, he recommended a system of tests for requiring minimum standards of independence and effectiveness from press regulators.

But those plans nonetheless bore remarkable similarities to the IPSO system, which newspaper representatives began to develop shortly afterwards.

During the course of its establishment IPSO’s proponents claimed that as a regulator, it would be the “toughest in the Western world”, and that it would comply with “all the key elements” of the Leveson Report.  They even put those claims in a newspaper advert. It was found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Then came the appointment of Sir Alan Moses as Chair.  In an appearance at the Parliamentary Lords’ Communications Committee, he was critical of some aspects of the IPSO rules.  He promised to put a “red pencil” through many of them.

In practice, reforms have been few and far between, and consistently cosmetic in nature.

Over the course of the first five years, IPSO has not ordered a single investigation or fine.  It has not processed a single arbitration claim.

Hacked Off has worked with the victims of press abuse throughout this period to hold IPSO to account, and campaign for it to abide by the recognition auditing system recommended by Leveson.

Today’s announcement marks five years of failure for IPSO.  It still does not meet the Leveson requirements. As a result, hundreds of individuals have suffered press abuse without any meaningful regulatory recourse.  Millions of people who are targeted for discrimination in the press have also suffered. That has been the cost of publishing executives’ failure to establish independent self-regulation of the press.


The next five years

With news publishers reaching higher readerships than ever before through their websites, independent press regulation has never been more critical.

But while the largest publishers persist with IPSO, membership has grown for the UK’s independent regulator IMPRESS.  Dozens of local and investigative outlets are now members of the well-established regulator.

The IPSO system, meanwhile, is unsustainable.  Just like the PCC, and the Press Council before it, it will be ill-equipped to respond to the next outbreak of serious wrong-doing in the industry.  And as long as sham regulation persists, regrettably, wrongdoing is likely to recur.

Victims of press abuse are more determined than ever to see independent self-regulation of the press in the UK, and Hacked Off are committed to seeing it delivered.

We are confident that, with the support of the public and victims of press abuse, there will not be another five years of failure.


Will you help us give them a birthday present they will never forget and call this out on Twitter and/or Facebook ahead of IPSO’s 5th birthday party on Tuesday 29th October? Use the hashtag #5YearsOfFailure to join the online rally.

We rely on people like you to make a difference.

Give now to support the campaign for a free and accountable press.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Brendan Kielyreply
October 23, 2019 at 4:59 pm

There must be redress against the Media and Press culture which goes unchecked. Press victimisation of vulnerable individuals, abuse, misinformation, fabricated stories, failure to correct, laughable fines and a law unto themselves. It has to be opposed, policed and stopped.

Peter Williamsreply
October 23, 2019 at 5:15 pm

I don’t use social media. With the recent press intrusions into Prince Harry & Megan’s life I believe things have gone too far. We need independent control of Newspapers since leaving it to them clearly doesn’t work. I would support a petition on the government website calling for a debate on legal prohibition to halt to petty gossip of people in the public. It is a creeping disease in this country, so endemic that school students now believe it’s OK to demean and bully fellow pupils using social media.

October 23, 2019 at 5:16 pm

This is an absolute disgrace and shameful. Our country deserves much better than this corrupt outfit. Bring back Leveson 2

Carole Willcoxreply
October 23, 2019 at 7:00 pm

With things like this we see it time and time again, promises are made with no intention of carrying them through and politicians wonder why they have lost the faith of the public. I am sure there are decent politicians ( in all parties ) but we seem to being swamped with people who lie through their teeth.
I have always known who I would vote for but now I haven’t a clue. I think politicians should be held accountable.

October 23, 2019 at 8:11 pm

Shameful. Five years of justice postponed and justice denied.

Roger Woodreply
October 24, 2019 at 9:26 am

Our “popular” press is puerile. Some of our broadsheets are not far behind. BBC news is dreadfull. We need more than self regulation. It seems to me that a “free press” means that can say anything about anybody without any sense of responsibility or professional pride.

Mrs Alison Evansreply
October 24, 2019 at 9:41 am

Years after Leveson 1 and the government’s decision NOT to continue the good work done, by having Leveson 2, people are still being failed by newspapers and IPSO. I support free speech and investigative journalism BUT not at the expense of ruining people’s lives when there right to freedom is abused by intrusion and stories which are guaranteed to cause distress by the newspapers. To me, free speech is the ability for journalists to write in a true way about incidents that are relevant and honest not the paper’s ideas that they are in the public interest. I am interested to hear about abuse of power, lives being affected by weather, shoddy buildings, and harmful environments, I would love to read more positive stories of people and places making lives better for themselves and others. Why do journalists feel the need to find the negatives rather than the positives. They could do do much good for our country by feeding their readers positivity, good humour, and life affirmation as this would have a much better affect in the wider spheres of our lives.

Mrs Alison Evansreply
October 24, 2019 at 10:02 am

Perhaps it would be good to look back honestly at the last 5 years and decide in what way can things can be improved for everyone. Now that would be something to celebrate!! If you look for the good and admit and learn from any mistakes or omissions that have been made. We should not fear the newspapers we should encourage and applaud all the excellent journalism when it is seen and encourage others to reach for the high standards instead of raking up anything they see as ‘in the public interest’ raise that interest and celebrate moving UP instead of remaining in the old outdated gutter press. IPSO now has an important job along with Owners and Editors to start inspiring and motivating to the journalists to lift their heads up and be proud of their positive message each day.

Richard O’Gradyreply
October 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

Right wing press protected by the Tories, surprise surprise, NO.

Ian T Hincheyreply
October 24, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Cur mminJy evilaS’s evidence of national evil which kept him protected for life must still be empowering those who can effect, deflect, UK major policy directions.
Overcoming such control is a monumental task every good and decent UK citizen who believes good and decent governance should prevail, must stand-up against.

Maurice Gubbinsreply
October 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm

Fully support your move to let IPSO know we know they are a cowed failure. Another relic of the failures of one of our worst ever PMs.

Gill Durrantreply
October 24, 2019 at 7:13 pm

I have a look at the tabloids to see who the next hate figure is going to be, and you can see it from afar. The treatment of Prince Harry and his wife, amongst others, is appalling. You can almost see the “journalists” who work for these rags thinking about who’ll they big up so they can further destroy those they want to bring down. The casual, sneaky racism, the political bias, the glee at misfortune – Christ, it’s depressing. The press of this country brings out the absolute worst in people, and the lack of humanity is dreadful to see. And the lies! How do they get away with it? And they will, they will.

Jim Clarkreply
October 24, 2019 at 7:31 pm

People don’t matter, climate change doesn’t concern them, thousands killed in conflict is nothing to them, the destruction of the planet is a minor item. The only thing that matters to the rich and powerful is themselves and getting richer. As Harry Lime said “governments don’t care about people.
All the millions of marchers, all the petitions, all the protests by honest and decent people don’t matter because they are not rich and not powerfull they are only the 99% who are treated with contempt by the 1%

Bob Rustreply
October 24, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Mustn’t upset their financial backers

Ray Fittonreply
October 25, 2019 at 6:06 pm

The gutter Press have not amended their ways and continue to invade people’s privacy without justification.

October 25, 2019 at 7:37 pm

I used to think that a party in government would never have the gall to obviously favour its own supporting press so clearly in broad daylight. I never thought such a government could seriously nobble the BBC to publish their leaked fake news and repeat time and again the prejudice they spout themselves, such as blaming everything including the weather on one person in opposition! In Cameron, May and Johnson’s time I see that I was very wrong!!

October 26, 2019 at 1:34 am

Only Donald Trump has outdone you. Well Done IPSO

Trevor Cooperreply
October 26, 2019 at 4:06 pm

There is a difference between liberty and license. Liberty is freedom of speech allowing issues to be raised, criticisms to be made, investigations to try to uncover the truth. It has standards and rules, restraint and responsibility: it is not constrained or censored
License however abuses the freedom of speech, spreads false information/news, sets up false divisions between people, and exceeds the bounds of liberty to undermine it without consequences.
This is all standard philosophy stuff, Edmund Burke and J S Mill et al: nothing special, but informative.
But we need a press regulator which understands this and effectively holds the ring for liberty before license sweeps it away.

Malcolm Gibbsreply
October 28, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Leveson Report 2012, IPSO, justice denied for seven years.

Hugh Paynereply
October 28, 2019 at 10:10 pm

I have not bought a newspaper since seeing how some press releases I prepared were mangled. It was a matter of “not letting the facts get in the way of a good story”. Could Hacked Off promote a boycott of newspapers that do not maintain appropriate standards of journalism?

Ken BRUNTONreply
October 29, 2019 at 2:39 pm

What we should insist on is Levison Part 2; Cameron promised it and the tories binned it. I am ideologically opposed to anything that the tories and those idiot twins, bozo/trump, support or promote. None of these have the betterment of ordinary people foremost in their thoughts and, worse still, actions. .

October 29, 2019 at 3:52 pm

I have not purchased any news paper for the last 20 years. Hit them where it hursts – STOP buying them and their caustic lies

Dr Tony Agathangeloureply
December 17, 2019 at 9:25 pm

As a consequence of the election outcome we will need to redouble our campaign for L2 and a genuinely free press. I do not believe the press can be free within a private ownership relationship.
Alternative models, free of personal ownership and/or political interference must be constructed. The Guardian Trust model offers the right direction. We need a more creative discourse accompanying our campaign.
Not particularly creative, but the following might put a smile on our faces is the following;
An independent group of cost accountants assesses the net financial value of right-wing
press propaganda to the Tories during the election. And this sum be defined as an election expense.

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