The chairman of the new press self-regulation body which begins work today said he understands why some of its opponents regard it as "a fake".
Court of Appeal judge Sir Alan Moses said the Independent Press Standards Organisation would deal with "the standards of the press and enforcing the Editors' Code" as well as specific complaints but would allow "a wild, unruly press".
- January 22, 2021
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Moses said he had had "a lot" of contact with campaign group Hacked Off who have branded Ipso "a sham".
He said he "only lost my temper twice" but added he understood "the distress" and "frustration" of the group's supporters like Gerry and Kate McCann.
He said: "Of course they're angry, desperately angry, of course they don't trust IPSO and they regard it as a fake and I'm not at all surprised but I want to show that they're wrong."
The vast majority of newspapers have signed up to IPSO, which replaces the Press Complaints Commission, with The Guardian, Independent titles, Evening Standard and Financial Times among the absentees.
But Moses, who as a High Court judge presided over the Soham murders trial in 2003, said he did not think their joining was "vital to its existence".
He said: "If you ask me would I like them to join? The answer is of course I would."
Moses said he wanted IPSO, which is funded by the newspaper industry, to "act as properly and truly and genuinely an accountable independent regulator".
He said the funding system was "a very understandable concern" but "money has got to come from somewhere".
He said: "The mere fact that you're the source of money doesn't mean to say you're in control."
Asked about IPSO's budget, he said his "suspicion" was it would "cost substantially more" than the PCC.
He said the regulator would never "prevent publication in advance", adding: "All that I'm saying is that of course I want a wild, unruly press. The last thing I want is a boring press".
He said: "One thing you can say and it's not an unimportant thing is the importance of an unruly, interesting press because even if most of the time many of it is dealing with trivia, just occasionally it isn't and it's worth not losing that".
Moses added: "Of course there will be from time to time very serious and sometimes disgusting breaches of the code but the answer to that is to punish them".
He added that £100,000 had been set aside for investigations and IPSO could also look at cases if there was evidence of "a history of intrusion" or "some sort of pattern".
Hacked Off's executive director Joan Smith described IPSO as a "sub-standard regulator", saying: "Neither we, nor victims of press abuse, nor the wider public will accept a sham regulator that fails to meet the Leveson criteria of independence and effectiveness and which refuses to be subject to the audit that Lord Justice Leveson said was vital to prevent a repeat of the disastrous failures of the past."
Hacked Off is planning a protest outside IPSO's offices, where the PCC was based, in Holborn this morning between 10.30 and 11am.
In a press release announcing the launch of IPSO, Moses said:
IPSO aims to help rebuild public trust in the press through independent, fair and transparent regulation. Its role as an independent regulator is to provide support and redress for victims of press abuse. To raise standards is to protect the public from abuse. The Board and I believe that the freedom of the press can best be maintained by supporting and enhancing standards through an independent regulator. To achieve that aim we are committed to establishing and demonstrating our independence.”
“Where standards have been breached we will apply sanctions and seek redress. Where we see patterns of poor behaviour we will pursue change. Democracy depends on a free but fair press. Through independent regulation IPSO will make an important contribution to that vital objective.”
The press release said:
Subscribing publications will be expected to deal fairly and swiftly with complaints from their readers, with IPSO available to support members of the public who feel that their concerns are not being addressed properly. IPSO will monitor the complaints handling procedures of its subscribing publications with expectations of clarity, efficiency, fairness and transparency.
The new Complaints Committee has been recruited by an appointments panel created by the IPSO board. The IPSO board will ratify the new complaints committee today.
Sir Alan Moses