The independent Press Recognition Panel, in its sixth Annual State of Recognition Report, was highly critical of industry-controlled press complaints-handler, IPSO.
The Panel found, “IPSO is not a regulator, and it manifestly does not meet the Royal Charter criteria. It is not independent of the industry. It does not provide the public with the necessary levels of protection intended following the Leveson Inquiry”.
The Panel also warned of a “chilling effect on free speech” as the Government fails to introduce crucial elements of the Leveson framework.
Leveson recommended that newspapers should not have to pay their opponents’ costs in legal claims, and that both sides should instead use cheap arbitration under an independent regulator. This ensures access to justice for the public and protects newspapers from the risk of excessive costs, which can have a chilling effect on free speech.
Parliament voted for these reforms, but the Government is refusing to bring the relevant law into effect.
Commenting on the PRP’s findings on IPSO, Hacked Off Chief Executive Nathan Sparkes said,
“The independent Press Recognition Panel’s report today confirms that IPSO lacks regulatory powers and is not independent of the newspaper industry.
“It’s been more than seven years since IPSO was established, and in that time it has failed to launch a single investigation, nor levy a single fine.
“The public deserves better than a complaints-handler which exists to protect its own members.”
On the growing membership of the UK’s only independent press regulator, IMPRESS, Sparkes added,
“Over a hundred publishers are now members of a recognised regulator and were promised protection from the risk of paying their opponent’s costs in media claims brought against them. Instead, the Government has failed to introduce the vital part of legislation to provide these newspapers with the protection they need.
“The Government should stand up for freedom of expression and bring the Leveson framework into effect without further delay.”