The Press Recognition Panel (PRP) has published its second annual report on the recognition system. The report explains that there is currently one recognised regulator – IMPRESS:
“IMPRESS has increased its membership in the 13 months since it was recognised as an approved regulator by the Press Recognition Panel, but a number of the larger relevant publishers remain outside the recognition system.
“Several publishers have joined IPSO, which does not intend to seek recognition from the Press Recognition Panel. Other publishers have chosen not to join IMPRESS or IPSO.”
The report concludes that this situation makes it clear that there is little external incentive for publishers to join or form an approved regulator:
“As Leveson anticipated, and factored into his recommendations when he produced his independent report, for self-regulation to be effective, there needs to be appropriate incentives to encourage sign up to approved regulators while, at the same time, ensuring low cost access to court in relation to publishers who do not sign up.”
It was intended that those incentives would be provided by section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, but the law has not been commenced. Commencement would complete the system and:
- Protect ordinary people, not just the rich;
- Protect the press from the chilling effects of large legal costs; and
- Remove political influence in press regulation.
The PRP notes that there continues to be political involvement in press regulation in the UK and that opponents of the new system of regulation have focussed on encouraging the Government to repeal section 40:
“The delay commencing section 40 has paradoxically kept a political presence in place. Politicians should not be involved in press regulation, and full implementation of the recognition system would safeguard against that.”
David Wolfe QC, Chair of the PRP, said:
“Five years have passed since the Leveson Report was published and it is disappointing that the public is still not being protected in the way that was intended.
“There has been a concerted campaign to undermine the new system, but the reasons for not commencing section 40 do not bear scrutiny. The delay supports only the interests of the particular section of the press who oppose it. If the new system was allowed to operate as intended, that would protect the public as well as promote a free and vibrant press.
“It is clear that incentives are needed for the system to work. The need for action remains urgent.”
We are happy to arrange to present the findings of the report to anyone with an interest in our work. Indeed, as always, if you would find it useful to discuss any aspect of our work, please get in touch - email@example.com.