Mirror, Mirror On The Wall; Will This Press Arbitration Scheme Do Any Good At All?

Author:Ms Amber Melville-Brown
Profession:Withers LLP

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was an investigation into press behaviour. Lord Leveson heard from witnesses, tale upon tale of poor press conduct, and ultimately issued a plethora of sensible recommendations for press regulation with a view to ensure that the watchdog and bloodhound of society that is the press, could no longer savage the rights and reputations of the public.

A Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press was set up to establish an independent recognition panel, the Press Recognition Panel, as the body to decide whether any press self-regulator meets the recognition criteria recommended in the Leveson report of independence and effectiveness. While to date, there has been no recognised regulator in sight two champions have appeared. IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, came riding to the rescue of the press like a knight on a white charger, to be applauded by vast swathes of the British press - in fact, all the sizeable publishers save the Guardian, the FT and the Independent. Others have sought a horse of a different colour to back, in IMPRESS, which says that it is 'blazing a trail for a fairer, better kind of press regulation'.

But while IMPRESS has sought recognition of the PRP, IPSO has made clear that it does not intend so to do. Perhaps it is more like the evil queen in Snow White, gaining its own deluded recognition by gazing upon itself and liking what it sees. But there is a problem for IPSO, which may have prompted the dalliance with a pilot arbitration scheme. If no regulator can be found worthy of recognition, the PRP may report back to Parliament that Leveson is being ignored. The horror story for certain sections of the press would be the potential imposition of regulation via an existing tough regulator such as Ofcom...

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