Where are we with the story of press regulation?

Where are we with the story of press regulation?
Senior associate Michael Patrick and associate Jennifer Agate of Farrer & Co update us on the story so far in relation to press regulation.

What impact is the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) having on protecting both journalists and the public?

In practical terms little has changed. The new regulator has the power to impose stronger sanctions on the media including fines of up to £1m. However, IPSO chair Sir Alan Moses has publicly stated that he does not envisage that these powers will be fully used. To date, there have been no fines. On a practical level, IPSO is based in the same offices as the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), employs many of the same staff and even holds the same company number. This has led to inevitable criticism that IPSO is simply the PCC under a different name.

One important distinction is that unlike the PCC, IPSO will consider complaints from third parties, not simply those directly affected by the publication of a story. IPSO’s first major test came in September 2014 when MP Mark Pritchard filed a complaint against the Sunday Mirror in relation to entrapment and the ‘sex sting’ which lead to the resignation of fellow Conservative MP Brooks Newman.

The complaint was subsequently withdrawn after Mr Pritchard reached an ‘amicable settlement’ with the Mirror. Under the old PCC regime, this would almost certainly have been the end of the matter. However, Sir Alan Moses and IPSO have made it clear that they intend to pursue an inquiry regardless, and have further stated that they would have pursued the investigation whether or not a complaint had been made. That being said, we are now several months on and there is no sign of that investigation concluding.

Who has signed up to IPSO and who hasn’t?

As at February 2015, over 1,400 national and regional print titles and 1,000 online titles had signed up to be regulated by IPSO,

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