Witherow and Horrocks represent industry on five-strong IPSO appointments panel - Press Gazette

Witherow and Horrocks represent industry on five-strong IPSO appointments panel

Times editor John Witherow and former Manchester Evening News editor Paul Horrocks are the industry representatives on the appointments panel of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

The five-person panel will now set about appointing a chairman for new press regulator IPSO and then (with the chairman) it will appoint the rest of the 12-person board. It must take into account the views of publishers when it comes to appointing the five industry representatives on the IPSO board.

The appointments panel has itself been put together by a foundation group led by Lord Phillips of Worth Matrevers which included two industry representatives (Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun and Simon Jenkins).

The other members of the IPSO appointments panel are:

  • Former civil servant Sir Hayden Phillips
  • Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (a former Justice of the Supreme Court)
  • Dame Denise Platt (former chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection)

There must be “consensus” on the panel over appointments, meaning that the industry representatives will have to agree with the independents before any appointment can be made.

It has been said this means that the industry will effectively have a veto over appointments, and a spokeswoman for Sir Hayden Phillips confirmed to Press Gazette that all decisions of the IPSO appointments panel will need to be unanimous.

Phillips said: “The first task for me and for my colleagues on the appointment panel is to select the chair of the board of IPSO.

“Once appointed chair designate, he or she will join the panel to help us select the other directors of the board. When we advertise for the appointment of directors we will also seek candidates to serve on the IPSO complaints committee.

“While these latter appointments are not for the panel to make but are for the board of IPSO itself, this process will enable the board to have available a pool of possible candidates for the complaints committee when the board comes into being.

”My objective is that the IPSO Board will have been created and be ready to act by 1 May 2014.

“I hope that a wide range of candidates of quality and experience will come forward to serve on such an important new national institution”.

Most national and regional newspaper publishers, and many major magazine companies, are understood to have signed up to IPSO.

As it stands IPSO does not comply with the Royal Charter on press regulation, meaning that members could be open to the threat of punitive costs in libel and privacy cases.

The Financial Times, Guardian Media Group and Independent/Standard titles have yet to sign up to IPSO.

Director of campaign group Hacked Off Brian Cathcart said: "This shows the newspaper companies’ utter contempt for the very idea of independence. In a process that could hardly be less transparent, they hand-picked a retired judge who, by a second and equally obscure process, has now chosen a group that includes a serving editor employed by Rupert Murdoch who has displayed an extraordinary bias against the public in his papers’ coverage of press affairs.

“Alongside him, remarkably, is a former member of the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC). And instead of having a substantial majority of members who are demonstrably independent of the press, it has the smallest possible majority. This is exactly the kind of shifty operating that made the PCC such a disgrace.

“But none of this really matters because whoever is nominally in charge of IPSO will be the puppets of the big news publishers, just as the PCC was. Mr Murdoch, the Mail and the Telegraph have taken great care to ensure that they will hold the purse strings and call the shots."



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette