Press Regulation: where are we now?|
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
The immediate past
1. The UK's system of press regulation, which
seeks to balance freedom of expression with protection of privacy,
has undergone fundamental change over the last few years.
2. In July 2011, news emerged that the murdered
schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked by the News of
the World newspaper, and that the Prime Minister had set up a
public inquiry into press ethics, chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Justice
Leveson. The behaviour
of the press and how it should be regulated became a major news
3. Lord Justice Leveson's report, An
inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press (hereafter
the Leveson Report), was published on 29 November 2012. It found
that, "There have been too many times when, chasing the story,
parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote,
simply did not exist. This has caused real hardship and, on occasion,
wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and
liberties have been disdained."
4. On 30 October 2013, a Royal Charter on press
self-regulation was granted. This was the culmination of almost
a year of negotiations between political parties, the press and
parliamentary debate on the best way forward following the publication
of the Leveson Report.
5. The Royal Charter allowed for one or more
independent self-regulatory bodies for the press to be established.
Any such body would be recognised and overseen by a Press Recognition
Panel. Such a Panel came into existence on 3 November 2014.
6. The Crime and Courts Act 2013 included provisions
designed to provide a system of financial incentives for relevant
publishers to sign up to the new regime.
7. The Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which
had been the voluntary regulatory body for the industry, closed
in September 2014. It was replaced by the Independent Press Standards
Organisation (IPSO). IPSO is funded by the Regulatory Funding
Company (RFC)the successor to the Press Board of Finance
(PressBof), which had funded the PCC.
In November 2014, The Independent Monitor of the Press (IMPRESS),
the development organisation for a second regulatory body, appointed
a Chairman in anticipation of the regulatory body it is forming
being established. Neither IMPRESS nor IPSO has, as yet, sought
recognition under the Royal Charter.
8. Many newspaper groups have signed up to IPSO.
The Guardian, The Independent and Financial Times are notable
exceptions. Some victims
of press intrusion and Hacked Off (a campaign group for victims
of press intrusion) have claimed that IPSO "is as much a
'sham regulator' as its predecessor."
Why we carried out this inquiry
9. It was against this background that the Committee
decided to carry out a short inquiry into the current state of
play regarding press regulation in the UK. The Committee noted
that the public at large and even press industry experts were
confused about the current state of play.
10. We wanted to gain an understanding of some
of the intricacies of the current system and to set out the facts
of press regulation in the UK for the information of the House
and the wider public. Some of the key questions that we considered
has happened since the Leveson Report was published?
is the current system of press regulation?
· Is the
new system compliant with the recommendations of the Leveson Report?
is the current process for a member of the public wishing to make
a complaint against a publisher? Is this widely known and understood?
11. We have not made recommendations about the
future of press regulation in the UK. We have neither sought nor
received sufficient evidence to do this. Moreover, we do not consider
this the right time to make such recommendations: the current
arrangements are new and have not yet had time to demonstrate
whether they are robust and effective. This will require effort
on the part of the press, the regulators, the Press Recognition
Panel, the Government and the political parties. We may therefore
wish to return to the issue when the time is right for a full
Structure of the report
12. Chapter 2 sets out the main events of the
last 70 years relating to press regulation in the UK. We have
also included a timeline of these events for ease of reference
in Appendix 4. Chapter 3 explains the details of the current system,
examines the relevant bodies in some detail and analyses the evidence
that we have received about them and their relationship to each
other. In Chapter 4 we examine a number of issues surrounding
the current system of press regulation which are the subject of
disagreement or confusion. In Chapter 5 we set out the questions
that we have not been able to answer but which need to be addressed
by those who have the knowledge or the responsibility to do so.
13. We look forward to the Government's response
to the questions we pose in Chapter 5 and also invite any of the
other key stakeholders in this debate to respond. We will publish
these responses on our website.
14. We would like to thank everyone who submitted
evidence to us, both at oral evidence sessions, held in January
2015, and in writing. We are also grateful to Professor Stewart
Purvis and Doctor Damian Tambini, who took part in a detailed
briefing towards the start of the inquiry to enable the Committee
to understand the current situation.
3 'David Cameron promises phone hacking inquiry', BBC
(6 July 2011): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14036673
(accessed 3 March 2015] Back
The Leveson Inquiry, An Inquiry Into the Culture, Practices
and Ethics of the Press: Executive Summary (2012) p 4: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229039/0779.pdf
[accessed 6 February 2015] Back
See Chapter 4, paragraphs 121-146 Back
The Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBof) was the funding
organisation for the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) before
it was disbanded. It did this by raising a levy on the newspaper
and periodical industries, with the aim of securing financial
support for the PCC, while maintaining the PCC's independence.
PressBof was made up of six members (in addition to the Chair
of the PCC) all of whom were industry representatives. Back
'Victims of press intrusion brand new regulator Ipso a sham',
The Guardian (7 September 2014): http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/sep/07/victims-press-regulator-ipso-leveson
(accessed 10 February 2015] Back