A Parliamentarian who until recently sat on a partisan basis has been announced as the next Chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the newspaper complaints-handler.
The appointee was a party-political Member of the House of Lords for over 9 years before his appointment was confirmed. He was also a Government Minister for over two years. His appointment would be banned under the Royal Charter model for independent self-regulation of news publishers, on the grounds of protecting freedom of expression.
Hacked Off has today written to the editors of some of Britain’s most popular newspapers and largest newspaper associations, asking them to condemn political interference in regulation, given the risk it poses to freedom of the press.
Hacked Off Policy Manager Nathan Sparkes:
“Leading journalists, free speech advocates and press abuse victims have come together over the last four weeks to condemn the appointment of a politician as Chair of press complaints- handler IPSO: a clear violation of the principle that regulators must be free of political Interference.
“Yet while journalists and campaigners have spoken out, the same newspaper editors and executives who rely on spurious and unsubstantiated claims of political interference to reject the Leveson model of independent regulation have been missing in action.
“Today we have written directly to the editors of some of Britain’s greatest and most popular newspapers, in addition to associations the News Media Association and the Society of Editors, urging them to break their silence over this appointment and sign a simple statement criticising political interference in IPSO.
“A failure to speak out over this political appointment will show that press bosses’ genuine objections to the Leveson model have nothing to do with the fear of involvement from politicians, which that model prohibits, and everything to do with the prospect of facing meaningful accountability.”
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Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.
Individuals written to include:
Editor of the Daily Mirror, Alison Phillips
Editor of the Spectator, Fraser Nelson
Editor in Chief of The Sun, Tony Gallagher
Editor of the Daily Mail, Geordie Greig
The News Media Association
The Society of Editors
Text of the template letter:
Re: Significant risk to press freedom in the UK
The newspaper complaints-handler “IPSO” has appointed a Parliamentarian to serve as the organisation’s next Chair from January 2020. The appointee sat with the Conservative Party in the House of Lords before accepting the role.
It is the view of the Hacked Off Campaign that politicians who have sat on a partisan basis within the last five years should have no influence whatsoever over the operation of press regulators or complaints-handlers, in line with the Royal Charter requirements for recognised self-regulators.
We have published a statement (set out on the next page) which criticises this appointment as a risk to press freedom, thus rendering IPSO unfit to be a newspaper complaints-handler.
I hope you will agree that politicians should have no influence or control over newspaper complaints-handlers.
We encourage all those who share our conviction that press complaints-handling and regulatory bodies should not be run by politicians to put their names to this statement.