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April 17, 2014updated 19 Apr 2014 2:52pm

Financial Times opts out of IPSO regulator in favour of its own system

By Press Gazette

The Financial Times will not be joining new press regulator IPSO – the Independent Press Standards Organisation – editor Lionel Barber announced today.

Instead, it would put in place its own system which would be "accountable, credible, robust and highly adaptable to meet the pace of change in our industry", he said in a Letter from the Editor on the publication's website.

The FT stood for an independent press which was free of economic and political interference, and so supported efforts to create a more robust system of independent regulation following the Leveson inquiry.

But after "careful consideration" it had decided to go its own way, Mr Barber wrote, adding: "We believe this approach is consistent with our record of journalistic excellence and integrity, and it builds on our already strong system of governance designed to maintain the highest possible ethical standards."

He went on: "Our approach reflects the FT's standing as an increasingly digital news operation with a global footprint. More than three-quarters of our readers are now outside the UK. Our main competitors are global news organisations, each of which applies its own system of independent regulation. There is no industry standard."

The FT was a longstanding member of the Press Complaints Commission, which was due to close soon.

"In its place, we will set up a new mechanism to handle reader complaints in the event that they feel our internal procedures fail to provide an adequate response or redress," Barber wrote.

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He went on: "Two points are relevant here. First, our record at the PCC in recent years shows that in the overwhelming majority of cases the FT has been exonerated from criticism. Second, the FT is always willing to deal with complaints expeditiously and, if warranted, publish a clarification, correction or apology."

But it recognised the need to provide additional reassurances in the post-PCC world, and would be creating a new position of editorial complaints commissioner, the remit and reporting line for which would be detailed in a public advertisement.

"The successful candidate will be appointed by a three-person committee and will be independent of the editor," Mr Barber wrote.

The FT would also continue to provide platforms for readers to comment on articles and participate in discussion with its reporters and commentators.

Mr Barber added: "The FT will continue to engage with our peers in the industry. Every newspaper and news group must make their own choice regarding regulation. At this point, we have decided to plot our own course.

"We are committed to best practice and determined to uphold the high standards that have served the FT and our readers so well over the past 126 years."

Read Lionel Barber's letter in full here.

Following the announcement, a Hacked Off spokesman said the fact the FT has decided not to join IPSO means the system will have "even less credibility than the failed self-regulator it replaces".

They added: “The public already know that IPSO is nothing more than a shabby facsimile of the discredited PCC."

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