Newspapers in fresh attack on government-recognised press regulator

William Turvill
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The majority of newspapers have signed up to be regulated by Ipso (Source: Getty)

The newspaper industry has launched a fresh attack on the UK’s official press regulator, demanding that its status be challenged.

The News Media Association (NMA) has called on the Press Recognition Panel (PRP) to conduct an ad hoc review of its decision to recognise Impress.

Lawyers for the NMA wrote to the PRP on Friday highlighting evidence which they believe make the members of Impress’ board “unsuitable” to regulate the press. They believe Impress board members are biased against certain publications.

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The content and tenor of the [public] statements attached make it clear that certain individuals on the board of Impress and on the code committee and Impress’ CEO hold very extreme views on sections of the press that would impair their ability to act fairly and impartially in regulating members of the press.

The PRP recognised Impress last autumn, making it the UK’s government-approved regulator.

However, the vast majority of the newspaper and magazine industry is instead regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which is not applying to be officially recognised.

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Most newspapers have refused to sign up for Impress regulation because they see it as a step towards state regulation of the press.

The newspaper industry has increased its attacks on Impress in recent weeks, including through applying for a judicial review, as the government seeks to decide whether to implement Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.

This law change would mean that publications not regulated by the official body, Impress, would be liable to pay the costs of claimants suing for libel - even if they win the court case. The NMA has estimated this would cost the newspaper industry £100m a year.

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