The Chairman of the Press Recognition Panel has written to the Government regarding the Panel’s apparent “designation” within the “boundary” of the Ministry of Justice.
The Press Recognition Panel is an independent body established by Royal Charter. Its role is to “recognise” regulators established by or on behalf of publishers of news-related material, which meet basic and specified standards of independence and effectiveness.
The Panel enjoys absolute protection from Government and political interference through several mechanisms, in order to protect the freedom of the press.
Most of the largest publishers have instead set up IPSO, an industry complaints-handler which does not meet the requirements for “recognition”, and whose rules can only be changed with the agreement of the Regulatory Funding Company (RFC). The RFC consists of 6 press executives, 1 editor, and 1 politician.
Hacked Off’s Director of Policy Nathan Sparkes said,
“The unimpeachable independence of the Press Recognition Panel is one of the distinguishing features of the Leveson model of press regulation, which sets it apart from the industry-controlled complaints-handler IPSO, whose rules must be agreed with a committee of newspaper executives and a working politician.
Putting a politician in the position of vetoing a complaints-handler’s rules, as with IPSO, is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank – an element of political control which is a danger to press freedom, and which the Panel is protected against.
“It would violate the terms of the Royal Charter, itself protected by primary legislation, for the Government to have any oversight of the Panel, through the Ministry of Justice or otherwise.”