Mose­ley fund­ing is at cen­tre of court bat­tle over new press reg­u­la­tor

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

JAN COLLEY AND CATHY GOR­DON

has chal­lenged the de­ci­sion on the ba­sis the PRP mis­in­ter­preted and mis­ap­plied the char­ter.

It wants Lady Jus­tice Raf­ferty and Mr Jus­tice Pop­plewell to quash the de­ci­sion and de­clare that Im­press fails to meet the recog­ni­tion cri­te­ria set out in the char­ter.

In Lon­don yes­ter­day, Lord Pan­nick QC said Im­press reg­u­lated a tiny pro­por­tion of small pub­lish­ers and de­pended on fund­ing from a trust fi­nanced by Mr Mosley, “a pro­po­nent of strict reg­u­la­tion of the press”.

“We say Im­press is not an in­de­pen­dent self-reg­u­la­tory body for the pur­poses of the char­ter, and that is be­cause it reg­u­lates a tiny mi­nor­ity of rel­e­vant pub­lish­ers.”

He added: “The char­ter re­quires the fund­ing of the reg­u­la­tor must come from the funds of those who are be­ing reg­u­lated.

“That is what self-reg­u­la­tion means.

“There is no dis­pute this is not the case in re­la­tion to Im­press. Im­press is de­pen­dent on third­party fund­ing.”

He said it was in­con­sis­tent with the op­er­a­tion of a sys­tem of reg­u­la­tion which sat­is­fied the ba­sic cri­te­ria set out in the char­ter – “ef­fec­tive­ness... in­de­pen­dence... cred­i­ble pow­ers... re­li­able fund­ing” – for Im­press to rely on fund­ing “from a cam­paigner who has a per­sonal agenda to im­pose rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tion of the press to pre­vent in­ter­fer­ences with pri­vacy”.

Mr Mosley has cam­paigned to strengthen reg­u­la­tion since his 2008 pri­vacy vic­tory against the News of the World af­ter it printed pho­tos of him at a sex party.

Lord Pan­nick said that, while Im­press was de­pen­dent on Mr Mosley, it did not mat­ter where the money came from. What mat­tered was it came from the funds of those be­ing reg­u­lated.

Most na­tional news­pa­pers have signed up to the In­de­pen­dent Press Stan­dards Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Ipso), a vol­un­tary in­de­pen­dent body not backed by the Gov­ern­ment.

They fear that the recog­ni­tion of Im­press could trig­ger leg­is­la­tion forc­ing news­pa­pers to pay the costs of li­bel or pri­vacy ac­tions against them, even if they win their cases, po­ten­tially forc­ing them out of busi­ness.

The in­dus­try has called on Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May to refuse to im­ple­ment the leg­is­la­tion, un­der sec­tion 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 (CCA).

Lord Pan­nick said Ipso did not in­tend to ap­ply to be recog­nised by the PRP and the me­dia reg­u­lated by Ipso did not wish to join Im­press.

That was be­cause, in their view, it was in­con­sis­tent with the free­dom of the press for a body such as the PRP to have a role in recog­nis­ing or ap­prov­ing sel­f­reg­u­la­tory press bod­ies, and be­cause of the de­fi­cien­cies of Im­press and the high stan­dards im­posed by Ipso.

The hear­ing is ex­pected to last two days, with a de­ci­sion re­served to a later date.

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