Will the Government ignore the Press’s refusal to sign up to the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press indefinitely? This is the question posed by the House of Lords Communications Committee in its report published today.
The Committee is also concerned about the complexity of the new system and public awareness of how to make a complaint.
Chairman of the Committee, Lord Best, said:
“We initiated this inquiry to establish exactly where things stand with regard to press regulation in the wake of the Leveson report, the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press and the closure of the Press Complaints Commission. We wanted to set out the current situation clearly and in one place.
“Our inquiry has raised a number of questions and has uncovered some problems. While most national newspapers have signed up to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), a number – including the Guardian, Financial Times and the Independent – have made different arrangements for handling complaints. This presents a confusing picture for the public, and in particular for any complainant.
“Moreover, neither IPSO nor the publishers who are not members of IPSO currently fulfil key requirements in the Royal Charter for a fully independent regulator. The Press Recognition Panel, which was set up under the Royal Charter to approve and oversee new regulators, has not, to date, received any applications for recognition. Although the chairman of IPSO is in the process of making changes, IPSO is not seeking to be officially recognised.
“An alternative potential regulator – the Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS) – may seek recognition when it is properly established and has members.
“After the shocking revelations about phone hacking – and the very personal stories that continue to emerge of relationship breakdowns, pain and distress caused to the victims – what we are left with is a complex process for people to go through to make a complaint against a publication, and with no regulator in place that meets the criteria set out by Lord Leveson and embodied in the Royal Charter.
“So the key question remains: when will the Government evaluate the success – or otherwise – of the arrangements that have emerged since the Royal Charter, and what else must happen for it to take further action?”