High Court rejects challenge to status of press regulator
IMPRESS, Britain’s official press regulator backed by controversial sports tycoon Max Mosley, has won a High Court challenge to continue operating.
News Media Association (NMA), representing publishers, said Impress should not have been approved by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), set up under a royal charter after the Leveson inquiry into press ethics.
NMA claimed the PRP misinterpreted and misapplied the charter, arguing Impress’s dependence on funding from a donor such as Mr Mosley – the ex-formula 1 boss who sued the News of the World over its account of an “orgy” with prostitutes – had left it open to influence from anti-press campaigners.
However, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Popplewell yesterday rejected the argument. Walter Merricks, chairman of Impress, said: “This judgment shows the system of externally verified self-regulation…is fully functional. We can now get on with the job of upholding high standards of journalism. At a time when the news publishing industry is under massive pressure, Impress is uniquely able to reduce publishers’ legal risks and enhance their standing in the eyes of audiences and advertisers.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support of the NUJ, Sir Harry Evans and many others in and around the industry, and are sorry that the NMA have wasted so much time attacking Impress, which meets the standards that they refuse to meet.”
Lord Pannick QC argued that, while Impress was dependent on Mr Mosley, “a proponent of strict regulation of the press”, it did not matter where the money came from.
Most national newspapers have signed up to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, fearing recognition of Impress would mean paying the costs of those who sue them, even if they lose. David Wolfe, chairman of the PRP, said: “The PRP board recognised Impress because it meets the 29 criteria in the royal charter. It’s as simple as that.”