The independent Press Recognition Panel (“PRP”) has today approved IMPRESS as an independent self-regulator of the press. At a public board meeting today, the PRP grant recognition to IMPRESS as a regulator within the meaning of the Royal Charter on the Self-Regulation of the Press [pdf].
The campaigning group, Hacked Off, on behalf of press abuse victims, welcomed the decision and called on the Government to deliver promised free speech protections.
Hacked Off’s Joint Executive Director Dr. Evan Harris said:
“By passing the PRP’s audit, IMPRESS is the first regulator to have proven its independence and effectiveness under the Leveson system of independent assessment. The days of failed industry-controlled regulators like the PCC and its sham replacement IPSO are numbered. IPSO members’ desperate attempts to derail the Leveson process with further delays and aggressive threats of legal action against the PRP, have failed yet again today.
This decision makes IMPRESS the only regulator which the public, readers and victims of press abuse can trust to regulate newspapers and safeguard freedom of the press, while offering redress when they get things wrong.
The public will be pleased that independent and effective press regulation, which opinion polls have shown the public support overwhelmingly, is achievable but will expect that newspapers join IMPRESS or get their own regulator recognised.
Now there is a recognised regulator, the costs protections for news publishers signed up to it, and for those press victims forced to sue newspapers who are not signed up, which were set out in section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act should now be allowed to take effect. The Government’s refusal to bring that law into effect means that this Government is now actively depriving publishers and journalists of the free speech protections they were promised.”
Hacked Off Patron and libel-victim Christopher Jefferies said:
“National titles must now sign up to IMPRESS if they want to show the public that anything has changed since the phone hacking scandal and Leveson Report. The recognition of a regulator was supposed to trigger both costs protection for newspapers who are signed up and guaranteed access to justice for victims of press abuse who need to sue a newspaper which is not signed up. The Government must therefore bring that measure into effect as they promised.”
Investigative journalist, Nick Davies said:
“No decent journalist wants their work regulated by Ipso – an organisation which is vulnerable to the influence of some very bad people from the worst newspapers in the UK. Impress is a decent alternative, independent of government and of newspapers.
“It tells you all you need to know about the continuing scandal of press misbehaviour in the UK that these notorious newspapers will not join a regulator which can be trusted to enforce the code of conduct which they themselves have written and claim to want to honour; and that in spite of overwhelming public and parliamentary support, government is too scared of those newspapers to trigger Section 40, which would put pressure on those newspapers to join such a regulator.”