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  1. Media Law
July 5, 2017

Trinity Mirror group editor Neil Benson takes over from Paul Dacre as chair of the Editors’ Code committee

By Freddy Mayhew

Neil Benson has replaced Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre as the new chairman of the Editor’s Code of Practice Committee, which sets and revises the rules upheld by press regulator IPSO.

The committee is made up of nine editors, three independent “lay” members and the chairman and chief executive of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

Benson, who is group executive editor at regional publishing giant Trinity Mirror, was elected by the industry members of the committee. Benson is stepping down from his role at Trinity Mirror at the end of the year.

Dacre announced his intention to stand down as chairman in December last year after acting on advice in an external review of IPSO that recommended members serve no more than two three-year terms on the committee.

During his nine-year tenure, Dacre steered the 16-point code through the Leveson Inquiry – “from which it emerged without criticism”, according to IPSO – and prompted the introduction of the committee’s first lay members.

Benson said: “On behalf of the committee, I should like to express our sincere thanks to Paul Dacre, whose chairmanship has been so sure-footed during a particularly challenging period for our industry.

“I am honoured to be elected as his successor and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members as we consider the submissions to the recent code review.”

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Dacre said: “The Editors’ Code is the cornerstone of self-regulation of the press, and it has been an enormous honour to have chaired the code committee for the last nine turbulent years.

“As group executive editor of Trinity Mirror, Neil Benson has vast experience of how the code works and I am sure he will do a brilliant job steering the committee through the challenges of the digital age.

“The code could not have a better custodian, and I wish him every success.”

Gary Shipton, deputy editor-in-chief of Johnston Press and editorial director of its Sussex newspapers, has also been appointed to serve on the committee.

Shipton replaces Ian Murray, who left the Southampton Southern Daily Echo earlier this year and is now deputy executive director of the Society of Editors.

Shipton said: “I know from first-hand experience as a working editor just how diligent and forensic IPSO is in enforcing the Editors’ Code of Practice.

“In fast changing times, of course, it is vital that the code is not preserved in aspic but kept under constant review by the code committee so that it continues to set the highest standards of journalistic integrity, while robustly defending the public interest and the public’s right to know.”

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