IMPRESS

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IMPRESS is an independent press regulator in the UK. It was the first to be recognised by the Press Recognition Panel.[1] Unlike the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), IMPRESS is fully compliant with the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. No national newspaper has signed up to the new regulator; most continue to be members of the unrecognised Independent Press Standards Organisation.[2] IMPRESS's membership consists only of some small-circulation local newspapers and blogs. It is funded by Max Mosley.[3][4] Its chief executive is Jonathan Heawood.[5]

Background[edit]

In Spring 2011, News International began publicly admitting liability and paying compensation to people whose phone voicemail the News of the World had listened to, including an allegation (later disproven) that the paper had hacked and deleted messages from the phone of a murdered girl, Milly Dowler. This resulted in the withdrawal of advertising from the News of the World and its ceasing publication.

Lord Leveson, a senior judge, was appointed in 2011 to conduct an inquiry into the "culture, practices and ethics of the press."

In 2012 Lord Leveson issued a report that recommended replacing the old Press Complaints Commission (PCC). The Leveson Report recommended that if a new, voluntary regulatory body were to comply with a list of requirements set out in the report then litigants should be encouraged to seek redress through procedures provided by such a body: Leveson's mechanism (which was later incorporated in Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013) was that when a recognised, compliant body had been established, with a dispute resolution mechanism, then if a complainant instead brought an action in the courts, not through the new body, neither side could be awarded any costs in the court action, even if they were to win. To determine whether any proposed complaints body complies with the Leveson criteria, The Press Recognition Panel (PRP) was established.[6]

"The Press Recognition Panel (PRP) is an independent body set up to ensure that any organisation which regulates the press is independent, properly funded and able to protect the public, while recognising the important role carried out by the press."[7]

On 8 September 2014, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) was established by the major newspapers. It declined to seek recognition from the Press Recognition Panel, arguing complying with all the criteria would compromise its independence.[citation needed] Other newspapers, such as The Guardian, The Independent and the Financial Times, chose their own system of regulation.[8][9] In 2016, an external review by former civil servant, Sir Joseph Pilling, found IPSO "largely compliant" with the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.[10]

In 2013,[11] a new group was formed by free speech advocate Jonathan Heawood[12] called IMPRESS, intended to be a body fully compliant with the recommendations of Leveson.[citation needed] IMPRESS was initially supported by individuals and groups including J.K. Rowling, the campaign group Hacked Off and the controversial Max Mosley.[citation needed] In 2015, a charity, the Independent Press Regulation Trust (IPRT), agreed to provide £3.8 million in funding to IMPRESS over the next four years, with the IPRT's funding guaranteed by Max Mosley's Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust.[5] By October 2016, it regulated around 40 specialist and local publishers.[5]

History[edit]

On 25 October 2016, IMPRESS became the UK's first officially recognised press regulator after its application for Royal Charter recognition was granted.[5][1] The recognition was backed by campaign groups such as Hacked Off,[5] and by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ),[11] but opposed by all of the major national and regional print newspapers.[13][8][9]

The government declined to implement Section 40, with the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley describing it as a threat to a “vibrant free local press”.[13]

IMPRESS has been rejected by all the big national titles plus most of the regional papers.[14] IPSO, with the help of The News Media Association - which represents many of the largest IPSO members - requested a 'judicial review' on the grounds that “That is not what Leveson or those drafting the Charter intended.”,[15] the case was rejected by the High Court, a decision IPSO intend to appeal.[16]

IMPRESS is at present the only regulatory body recognised by the Press Recognition Panel.[citation needed] However, the Government has declined to bring Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act into effect,[citation needed] so the advantage of membership in terms of cost shifting are negated.[citation needed] The Conservative and Unionist Manifesto for the General Election in 2017 pledged to repeal Section 40,[17] but this has not been done, so there remains a possibility that Section 40 may be activated.

Impress arbitrators are appointed by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.[18]

In July 2017, in its first libel arbitration case, it ordered Byline Media to pay freelance journalist Dennis Rice £2,500 over tweets about him.[19][4] In May 2018, it ordered the blog Evolve Politics to pay £900 in damages over an article wrongly claiming a Sky News broadcaster attended a Presidents Club dinner.[20]

In September 2017, an IMPRESS internal review concluded that some of its senior board members - Heaward, Emma Jones (former editor of Smash Hits magazine and deputy editor of the Sun's showbiz column Bizarre[21]) and Máire Messenger Davies (emerita professor of media studies at Ulster University[21]) - breached its own standards by appearing to be biased against a number of newspapers; it recommended they step down from the Board.[22] Impress subsequently created a sub-committee excluding the three, to deal with any complaints relating to larger media companies.[23] In November 2017, Jones and Messenger Davies were recused from the investigation of complaints about the IMPRESS-regulated blog The Canary and its reporting on BBC politics editor Laura Kuenssberg after they shared tweets attacking her.[21] In December 2017, it ruled that The Canary had breached its standards code by making false claims about Kuenssberg.[24][25] In November 2017, founder member the Caerphilly Observer quit IMPRESS due to concerns over transparency.[26]

In February 2018, Max Mosley initiated legal action using data protection laws against The Sun for its reporting on his funding ties to IMPRESS.[27][28][29] Further controversy over Mosley in March 2018 led to members considering their ties to the regular.[30][31]

In April 2018, the News Media Association won the legal right to appeal against the Press Regulation Panel's decision to award IMPRESS the status of recognised regulator.[32]

In July 2018, IMPRESS extended the scope of its arbitration scheme to include civil claims for breaches of the Data Protection Act. By this time it was regulating 109 titles.[18] By this time, it had received five applications for arbitration and published two arbitration awards, relating to Evolve Politics and Byline Media.[18]

In November 2018, IMPRESS ruled against the blog Skwawkbox for breaching standards in its reporting on Wes Streeting MP. The complaint upheld was that the publishers did not take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy, because Streeting had only been given four hours to respond to the blog's enquiry.[33] The panel did not make a judgment on the factual accuracy of the Skwawkbox article, stating that "The Committee was not in a position to test the veracity of the evidence provided by the Publisher".[34]

On 26 March 2019, IMPRESS was reconfirmed as the UK's approved, independent press regulator by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP). The PRP clarified that "This means that, amongst other things, IMPRESS is independent of the print and online publishers it regulates, is appropriately funded, and has systems in place to protect the public."[35]

Member publications[edit]

The following publications have joined IMPRESS:[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "First official UK press regulator, Impress, approved". BBC News.
  2. ^ "Who IPSO regulates". IPSO.
  3. ^ "Mosley: 'Family's money funds press regulator'". BBC News. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Max Mosley-funded press regulator Impress arbitrates £2.5k libel payout by website Byline which he has shares in". Press Gazette. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Mayhew, Freddy (25 October 2016). "Press Recognition Panel gives alternative press regulator Impress Royal Charter backing". Press Gazette. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  6. ^ "What's going on with UK press regulation?". London Freelance (NUJ).
  7. ^ "Who We Are". Press Recognition Panel.
  8. ^ a b Sillito, David (25 October 2016). "Divisions persist on regulating UK press". BBC News. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b Jackson, Jasper (25 October 2016). "Max Mosley-funded press regulator would be 'attack on free speech'". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  10. ^ Ponsford, Dominic (12 October 2016). "External review of IPSO finds press regulator is independent, effective and largely compliant with Leveson". Press Gazette. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Press regulation post Leveson – where are we now?". Media Policy Project. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  12. ^ Barnett, Steven (25 October 2016). "Press regulation in Britain: a step forward – and a step back". The Conversation. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b Ponsford, Dominic (25 October 2016). "Culture Secretary Karen Bradley says commencing Section 40 could undermine 'vibrant free local press'". Press Gazette. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  14. ^ "IMPRESS Press Regulator Newspaper Publishers - Max Moseley". The Guardian. 25 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Newspapers Claim Decision to Grant Impress Royal Charter Recognition Unlawful and Threatens Judicial Review".
  16. ^ "High court rejects challenge to status of UK press regulator". The Guardian.
  17. ^ The Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017 page 80: 'A free media'
  18. ^ a b c Fosdick, Sam (24 July 2018). "Press regulator Impress extends arbitration scheme to cover data protection claims". Press Gazette. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Byline Media ordered to pay journalist Dennis Rice £2,500 under first libel arbitration from regulator Impress". Press Gazette. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  20. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (21 May 2018). "Evolve Politics told to pay £900 in damages by Impress arbitrator after defaming broadcaster in follow-up report on Presidents Club dinner". Press Gazette. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  21. ^ a b c Ruddick, Graham (15 November 2017). "Impress excludes board members from Laura Kuenssberg article inquiry". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Press regulators Impress breached own impartiality guidelines, internal report finds". The Telegraph. 27 September 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Press regulator Impress bans own chief executive from dealing with major Fleet Street publishers after anti-press tweets". Press Gazette. 27 September 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Impress rules Canary breached standards code over Laura Kuenssberg article". Press Gazette. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  25. ^ Hopkins, Steven (20 December 2017). "The Canary Makes Front Page Correction Over False Laura Kuenssberg Tory Conference Story". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Impress founder member Caerphilly Observer quits regulator over concerns about its 'transparency' and 'openness'". Press Gazette. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Max Mosley in bid to 'gag' Sun, Times and Daily Mail from reporting past sex orgy and his funding ties to Impress". Press Gazette. 15 February 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Max Mosley 'using data protection law to gag the media'". The Telegraph. 15 February 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  29. ^ "Max Mosley accused of 'muzzling press'". BBC News. 17 February 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  30. ^ Moore, Matthew (1 March 2018). "Max Mosley: Media companies may quit regulator Impress". The Times. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Skwawkbox among Impress members considering cutting ties with regulator over Daily Mail's Max Mosley revelations". Press Gazette. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  32. ^ Linford, Paul (31 May 2014). "NMA wins legal right to challenge Impress recognition". HoldtheFrontPage. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  33. ^ "Skwawkbox rapped by Impress for giving Labour MP four hours to respond to 9pm request for comment". Press Gazette. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  34. ^ "Complaint Adjudication - 171/2018 | IMPRESS". impress.press. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  35. ^ "IMPRESS still meets Royal Charter standards - Press Recognition Panel (PRP)". pressrecognitionpanel.org.uk. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  36. ^ http://www.impress.press/news/impress-announces-next-wave-of-members.html
  37. ^ "Impress adjudication 171/2018" (PDF). IMPRESS. 19 Nov 2018.
  38. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (24 August 2017). "The Canary joins Impress to become alternative press regulator's 66th member". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  39. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (30 November 2018). "Left-wing news site Evolve Politics joins press regulator Impress in response to 'unsubstantiated shrieks of fake news'". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  40. ^ "Left Foot Forward joins press regulator". Left Foot Forward. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.

Further reading[edit]

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