Inquiry into complaints alleging corrupt relationships between police and newspaper organisations

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 10th January 2017.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot 6:15 pm, 10th January 2017

I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s point.

I was mentioning the five royal commissions and inquiries since 1945. The article continues:

“Time and again, reports threatened new laws if the industry failed to sort itself out, time and again the industry failed. In his 1993 report, Sir David Calcutt, QC said of the then regulator, the Press Complaints Commission: ‘It is not...an effective regulator of the press...It is, in essence, a body set up by the industry, financed by the industry, dominated by the industry, and operating a code of practice devised by the industry and which is over-favourable to the industry’.

In 2012, Leveson recommended that newspapers should continue to be self-regulated and that the Government should have no power over what they publish. However, he also proposed a new press standards body created by the industry with a new code of conduct. The new self-regulatory body should be underpinned by a law to provide for a process to recognise the new body and ensure it meets certain requirements. It should also enshrine in law a legal duty to protect the freedom of the press and to ‘provide a fair, quick and inexpensive arbitration service to deal with any civil complaints about its members’
publications’. Ofcom should act in a verification role to ensure independence and effectiveness.”

There we have it. There is a proposal on the table that IPSO is perfectly at liberty to take up in respect of a cheap arbitration service. The other point is that it should not be dominated by former press people, but that is exactly what IPSO is all about. I am not specifically advocating IMPRESS, but I see no reason why IPSO should not be able to organise itself in such a way that it is compliant. Instead, it has set up a body dominated by former editors, which does not meet the Leveson conditions. The Government are right to consult, but I really do not believe that the newspapers have anything to fear from these proposals. I believe that they will be in the interests of the press but, above all, they will provide a remedy for those who cannot afford to seek a remedy. Surely our responsibility is to remedy injustice.