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Wednesday 21 January 2015

IPSO Not Independent - Says IPSO

When the larger part of the press set up the so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) as successor to the discredited PCC, the clear intention was to give the impression that, this time, the self-regulator really was independent of those it was regulating. And what everyone involved with this charade would not have expected is that the judgment that IPSO was not independent would come from within it.
But that is exactly what has happened as IPSO Chairman Alan Moses has once again ventured off piste while giving evidence to the House of Lords Communications Committee. As Press Gazette reported, “Moses told Parliament that he agreed IPSO’s rules give publishers too many opportunities to object to complaints in the hope of avoiding fines”. One wonder what he was expecting, as that is the whole idea.

He did, at least, appear serious: “Many of the rules - this awful collection of rules and regulations - are opaque, sometimes self-contradictory, difficult to understand and sometimes difficult to find. One of our main tasks at the outset has been to identify those rules and regulations which we say need amending or cutting out in order to demonstrate an effective and robust simplicity and directness”. And there was more.

I believe that that is the way we will demonstrate our independence. Only time will tell whether we can successfully persuade and convince others. The moment anybody else tries to tries to control us by any means, whether by opaque rules or by difficulties in any other way, that seems to me to be heavily damaging to independence”. So Alan Moses says that, right now, IPSO is not independent.

This is, of course, what campaigning groups like Hacked Off have been saying all along. And, just to underscore Alan Moses’ assessment of his own organisation, has come the coda to the IPSO complaint made by former Mail On Sunday investigations editor Dennis Rice against Press Gazette over extracts from Peter Jukes’ book on the hacking trial, Beyond Contempt, which I’ve looked at previously (HERE, HERE and HERE).

Peter noted “It’s only weeks after the draft adjudication that I looked up the IPSO complaints panel to find out that one of its senior members is the former editor of the Mail on Sunday – Peter Wright … several Mail on Sunday journalists working for Wright were at the centre of … phone hacking allegations: and one of the most prominent is Dennis Rice”. Wright should have recused himself from the Jukes and Press Gazette complaint.

He did not: “Peter Wright noted that he had formerly employed the complainant but had not been in contact with him for several years. The Committee agreed that this did not constitute a conflict of interest that should prevent his consideration of the complaint”. A lack of independence. A sham. An old boys’ network. And Alan Moses’ aim of Leveson compliance by Summer he can forget. The press won’t let it happen.

I said IPSO was a sham. Peter Jukes’ experience proves it. And that will not change.

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