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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

IPSO Fails Duck Test

It was hailed as the western world’stoughest” press regulator. Its new head, retired judge Alan Moses, would be totally independent of press and political interference. After all, as Spectator editor Fraser Nelson had claimed, the papers had offered to meet the recommendations in the Leveson Report “to the millimetre”. The so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) would be different.
There would be no more of the “looking the other way” and being asleep at the wheel that had sealed the fate of the discredited PCC. IPSO would be a new beginning. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, as campaign groups like Hacked Off had warned, the press would still be pulling the strings, and IPSO would not meet most of Leveson’s recommendations.

No matter: Alan Moses showed that he was determined to demonstrate his independence. He arranged a meeting with victims of press misbehaviour. As might be expected, I am not able to disclose who was present, but can give Zelo Street readers a one word description of proceedings. The meeting, I am reliably informed, was, for Moses and IPSO, “disastrous”.

It gets worse for Alan Moses: not only does IPSO have the same registered office, the same company registration number, and the same staff as the PCC, it now has the same head of its Editors’ Code Committee. Yes, settling back in to the seat he supposedly vacated – but in reality didn’t – is the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre. And, as the man said, there’s more.

Mail On Sunday editor Geordie Greig will also sit on that committee. Two of its five “lay members” will be Alan Moses and IPSO CEO Matt Tee, thus stacking the deck even more in favour of the industry. The board of the Regulatory Funding Company, which holds IPSO’s purse strings, has representatives of Trinity Mirror, Northern and Shell, News UK, and now the Telegraph Media Group, after Murdoch MacLennan joined it this week. A total, 100%, industry stitch-up.

Any transparency in the way these appointments were made has been lost on industry observers: this really is the PCC piss in a differently labelled bottle. It is reminiscent of the Monty Python “Cat Licence” sketch: “This is a Dog Licence with ‘Dog’ crossed out and ‘Cat’ written in in crayon”.

IPSO looks like the PCC. It walks like the PCC. It quacks like the PCC. It can therefore be concluded that IPSO has failed the Duck Test. We’ve been through the whole Leveson Inquiry and Report process, only for most of the press to stick their fingers up to their readers, and their democratically elected representatives, and defiantly carry on as before. That’s not good enough.

All it needs is the next episode of bad press behaviour, and the public will know too.