CHAPTER 5: KEY CONCERNS |
169. In the executive summary to his report Lord Justice
Leveson stated, "This is the seventh time in less than 70
years that the issues [of press regulation], which have occupied
my life since I was appointed in July 2011, have been addressed.
No-one can think it makes any sense to contemplate an eighth."
It is more than two years since the Leveson Report was published.
170. Chapters 1-4 of our report show that the
system for the regulation of the press is now even more complex
than it was before Lord Justice Leveson began his inquiry.
Although it may be that the system is necessarily complex, this
does give us cause for concern, both over its effectiveness and
over the public's understanding of how they can take forward any
171. We explained at the start of this report
why we have not made recommendations. However, our analysis raises
a number of questions relating to the current system of press
regulation which we would like to see addressed by the Government
and the press itself.
Questions to the Press Recognition
172. In Chapter 3 we discussed the Press Recognition
Panel, its current structure and funding, and the timescales to
which it is working. We noted that the Panel has been allocated
£900,000 for its work from the public purse, but has not
yet received any applications for recognition. If it does not
receive any applications, the requirements in the Royal Charter
mean that it would have to remain open, even if only in a "holding
We pose the following questions to the Press Recognition Panel:
there are no applications, and the Press Recognition Panel assumes
a 'holding pattern', for how long would it be allowed to remain
in this configuration? Would it continue to receive Government
funding, and at what level?
could make the decision to dissolve the Press Recognition Panel?
Questions to Independent Press
Standards Organisation (IPSO) and the Regulatory Funding Company
173. IPSO has 96 publishers signed up as members.
This includes most national daily newspapers and over 99 per cent
of the regional press.
It has no plans to seek recognition from the Press Recognition
Panel. In any case, it is not compliant with the recommendations
made in the Leveson Report or the criteria in the Royal Charter
which would be used by the Panel to judge whether or not to grant
recognition to a regulator. IPSO appears to have the confidence
of the press but lacks the confidence of, amongst others, those
who represent the victims of press intrusion. We pose the following
questions to IPSO and the RFC:
IPSO, whilst maintaining the confidence of the press, make the
necessary changes to gain the confidence of its current critics?
Can it balance freedom of expression on the one hand with the
individual's right to privacy on the other?
· Is the
current balance of responsibility and power between IPSO and the
it be more appropriate for IPSO, as an independent regulator,
to have sole control over its regulations?
· Is it
appropriate that the RFC owns the copyright to, and exercises
editorial control over the Editors' Code of Practice? Should the
RFC limit use of the Code to those to whom it grants a licence
or should this code be made freely-available to all regulators
who wish to use it?
consultation processes are in place regarding any changes to the
Code, and are they sufficient?
Editors' Code states that corrections must receive "due prominence"
(see Chapter 3, paragraph 96). What does this concept mean
in practice, and how is it enforced by IPSO?
IPSO establish an arbitration service for the early resolution
of disputes and if so, when will it be established?
IPSO intend to assess how well the public understand the current
system and know to whom they should address their concerns? Who
is responsible for ensuring that the system is understood?
Question to The Independent Monitor
of the Press (IMPRESS)
174. We ask IMPRESS:
IMPRESS, in the event of gaining a member who is a relevant publisher,
seek recognition from the Press Recognition Panel? If so is it
confident that it would thereby achieve the difficult balancing
act between the press's freedom of expression on the one hand
and the individual's right to privacy on the other?
Questions to the Government
175. We consider that the following questions
should be addressed by the Government:
does the Government plan to evaluate the new measures taken by
the press and others to assess whether its aims have been met
and the system is better for complainants, the public, journalists
and the press industry as a whole?
what circumstances would the Government take further action? Or
will the current situation, whereby the majority of the press
refuse to submit to the Royal Charter, be allowed to pertain indefinitely?
176. In 2011, the issue of Press Regulation was
a major news story in itself. For now the issue has become less
prominent. However, unless the UK has a system of press regulation
which adequately balances the right to privacy with freedom of
expression, and which has the confidence of potential claimants
and the press itself, it is likely that this issue will come back
again to haunt the public and the press.
212 The Leveson Inquiry, Executive Summary, op.
cit., paragraph 146 Back
Q53 (Paul Vickers) Back
Independent Press Standards Organisation, Editors' Code of
[accessed 4 March 2015] Back