New appointments panel shows IPSO newspaper regulator is anything but independent

The newly-revealed list of members of the appointments panel for IPSO – the newspaper proprietors’ PCC mark 2 – predictably fails to meet Lord Justice Leveson’s criteria that it must contain a ‘substantial majority of members who are demonstrably independent of the press. It also demonstrates how determined the big newspaper companies are to avoid genuine accountability.

Hacked Off’s director, Professor Brian Cathcart, said: “This shows the newspaper companies’ utter contempt for the very idea of independence. In a process that could hardly be less transparent, they hand-picked a retired judge who, by a second and equally obscure process, has now chosen a group that includes a serving editor employed by Rupert Murdoch who has displayed an extraordinary bias against the public in his papers’ coverage of press affairs.

“Alongside him, remarkably, is a former member of the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC). And instead of having a substantial majority of members who are demonstrably independent of the press, it has the smallest possible majority. This is exactly the kind of shifty operating that made the PCC such a disgrace.

“But none of this really matters because whoever is nominally in charge of IPSO will be the puppets of the big news publishers, just as the PCC was. Mr Murdoch, the Mail and the Telegraph have taken great care to ensure that they will hold the purse strings and call the shots. The Leveson Report said of the PCC that it was run for the benefit of the press, rather than the public. The same is true of the IPSO project.

“As the Prime Minister pointed out in a recent interview, what the newspaper industry needs to do to win the public’s trust is to establish a self-regulator that meets the basic standards recommended by Leveson and embodied in the Royal Charter. Anything less – and IPSO is far, far less – is a recipe for further outrages against the public and further loss of faith in journalism. “

The members of the panel are understood to be:

  • Sir Hayden Phillips (Chair)
  • John Witherow (Editor, member Editors’ Code of Practice Committee)
  • Paul Horrocks (ex-Editor, former PCC member)
  • Lord Simon Brown
  • Dame Denise Platt
IPSO has been assessed by the Media Standards Trust as only meeting 12 of the 38 Leveson Criteria including breaching multiple rules on independence. This report has never been rebutted or refuted by the industry
Among other requirements, Leveson required that the appointments panel for the new regulator should have a ”substantial majority of members who are demonstrably independent of the press” [Recommendation 3]

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Richard Lockreply
January 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

As you say, all highly predictable. Sadly for this country and, in fact for other western ‘democracies’, integrity is something irretrievably lost. What is so sorely needed is for the elite to have a major loss of face, they need to learn some humility but that is like Canute trying to turn back the tide. It is glaringly obvious that Cameron is owned by the media barons and the banksters so there would be no chance of him actually standing his ground and demanding that an independent regulator be appointed. Keep up the good fight!

Paul Hanmorereply
January 8, 2014 at 11:39 am
– In reply to: Richard Lock

Well said! Here here.

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January 8, 2014 at 10:48 am

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Law and Media Round Up – 13 January 2014 | Inforrm's Blogreply
January 13, 2014 at 12:03 am

[…] 3 others.  Roy Greenslade described the new body as “the PCC with extra bells and whistles”.  Hacked Off commented that the new panel showed that IPSO was “anything but independent”.  The Scottish Government […]

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