“Ex-Supreme Court judge on the panel to select Press Watchdog” announced the Daily Mail this morning, as the composition of the panel that will appoint members to the so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) was revealed. This star appointment was Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, whose photo graces the Mail piece. So who else is on the panel?
To no surprise at all, two of the five members are press men, with John Witherow, editor of the Murdoch Times, and Paul Horrocks, formerly editor of the Manchester Evening News, meaning that the Leveson recommendation that this panel has “a substantial majority of members who are demonstrably independent of the press” has been ignored. And, as the man said, there’s more.
The two remaining panel members are Lady Denise Platt and Sir Hayden Phillips. Who they? Well, Denise Platt is a career public servant. She comes from a social care background, having Head of Social Services at the Local Government Association. Her appointment will satisfy those who want some representation from the more generally liberal side of the debate.
Hayden Phillips, on the other hand, is a retired Civil Servant with more than 35 years’ service to his name. As a result he can be considered a pillar of the establishment, and is likely to be innately conservative, if only with a small c. Then we come to Simon Brown, whose presence was so boldly advertised by the Mail. It turns out that the paper has good reason to do this.
Brown is a former Harmsworth scholar. This is a major award given by the Middle Temple, where Brown was called to the Bar in 1961. These scholarships were set up by Lord Rothermere, who was once an “honorary bencher”. Which of the Lords Rothermere made the grant is not known, but one has to assume it was Harold Harmsworth, first Viscount Rothermere, founder of the Daily Mail.
Now, this may not in itself sway Brown towards the press. But these appointments must be seen to be squeaky clean, whiter than white, and this one gives the faint hint of being otherwise. It gets worse. As Gordon Ramsay has pointed out, Ipso, far from being a different entity to the discredited PCC, is in fact the same entity, having the same registered company number of 02538908.
Michael Grade, who declared his support for Young Dave in 2010, and David Hunt, a former Tory MP. So much for that much-vaunted independence from politicians and the press: they control the “new” body. That is a clear meeting of stitch-up and hypocrisy.
And this body is supposed to usher in a new broom for press regulation? No chance.