Press reg­u­la­tor Im­press wins case over sta­tus

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Press As­so­ci­a­tion

Bri­tain’s of­fi­cially recog­nised press reg­u­la­tor, Im­press, has fought off a high court chal­lenge over its sta­tus.

The News Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion (NMA), which rep­re­sents pub­lish­ers, said the Press Recog­ni­tion Panel (PRP), which was set up un­der a royal char­ter af­ter the Leve­son in­quiry, should not have given Im­press for­mal ap­proval a year ago.

The NMA said the PRP had mis­in­ter­preted and mis­ap­plied the char­ter, but Lady Jus­tice Raf­ferty and Mr Jus­tice Pop­plewell, sit­ting in Lon­don, yes­ter­day re­jected its case.

Wal­ter Mer­ricks, the chair­man of Im­press, said: “This judg­ment shows that the sys­tem of ex­ter­nally ver­i­fied self-reg­u­la­tion, rec­om­mended by Sir Brian Leve­son, is fully func­tional. We can now get on with the im­por­tant job of up­hold­ing high stan­dards of jour­nal­ism.”

Im­press’s de­pen­dence on third-party fund­ing from the for­mer mo­tor sport mogul Max Mosley was one of the rea­sons why it should not have been recog­nised, the NMA said.

David Pan­nick QC ar­gued that, while Im­press was de­pen­dent on Mosley – “a pro­po­nent of strict reg­u­la­tion of the press” – it did not mat­ter where the money came from. What mat­tered was that it must not come from the funds of those be­ing reg­u­lated.

Ben Jaf­fey QC, for the PRP, said the de­ci­sion to grant recog­ni­tion, which the judges re­fused to quash, was “unim­pugnable”.

Most na­tional news­pa­pers have signed up to the In­de­pen­dent Press Stan­dards Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Ipso), a vol­un­tary in­de­pen­dent body not backed by the gov­ern­ment. They fear the recog­ni­tion of Im­press could trig­ger leg­is­la­tion forc­ing news­pa­pers not signed up to a recog­nised reg­u­la­tor to pay the costs of li­bel or pri­vacy ac­tions, even if they win their cases.

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