Press regulator IPSO appoints former top civil servant to report on its independence and effectiveness

Press regulator IPSO has appointed former senior civil servant Sir Joseph Pilling to conduct an external review of its independence and effectiveness.

The appointment comes as an alternative to being audited by the Press Recognition Panel, which was set up by the Government to decide if press regulators meet the criteria agreed by politicians in the Royal Charter on press regulation.

Pilling was appointed by the IPSO appointments panel which was chaired by former civil servant Wendy Harris. Sir Hayden Phillips was not involved in the appointment because he has previously wored with Pilling. The other members of the panel are: Sir Alan Moses, Mirror editor Lloyd Embley, former Archant chief executive Adrian Jeakings and accountant Jeremy Horner.

Pilling is a former Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office and recently chaired a review for the Church of England on issues related to human sexuality.
He will be assisted by barrister Zoe Gannon.

Harris said: “This role was openly advertised and the Appointments Panel was looking for someone of unimpeachable independence, with a track record of conducting high profile reviews. We were very pleased that we were able to appoint someone as eminent and experienced as Sir Joseph.”

Pillling said: "I welcome IPSO’s decision to set up an external review at what is an important time for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. I look forward to engaging with a wide range of industry stakeholders, as well as the general public, and would encourage anyone who has observations and views they wish to submit to contact us.”

Evan Harris, of campaign group Hacked Off, said: "This is no substitute for a proper independent audit by a rocognition panel set up on the recommendation of a senior judge after a 15-month inquiry. A sham regulator obviously begets a sham auditing process."

IPSO said his terms of reference are as follows:

The External IPSO Review will report on how IPSO is fulfilling its role as regulator of the UK newspaper and magazine industries. It will examine the effectiveness of IPSO’s functions, and the extent to which it operates independently. In looking at this, the reviewer will test the degree to which IPSO has been faithful to its publicly stated principles and values.

The review will consider:

  • The independence of IPSO’s Board and Complaints Committee, including appointment, composition and management of conflicts of interest;
  • IPSO’s funding, including consideration of the quantum of funding and the mechanism by which funding is agreed and received
  • the relationship between IPSO and its members and any issues arising from the nature and range of those publications in membership and those which are not
  • the relationship with the Regulatory Funding Company
  • the relationship with the Editors’ Code Committee and any issues arising from the use of the Editors’ Code as the standard that IPSO enforces
  • the accessibility of IPSO’s functions to the public, the quality of its customer service and the degree to which it acts to protect the public and be on the public’s side, and the degree to which it is seen by the public as doing so
  • the effectiveness of the complaints system, its timeliness, the quality of the judgements reached and the appropriateness of the remedies required
  • the establishment and effectiveness of IPSO’s other functions: Standards (including standards investigations, compliance and the whistle-blower hotline), arbitration, advisory notices and external affairs.
  • the effect on industry regulation of issues including declining circulation and advertising revenue, consolidation of publishers and titles, increased digitisation and convergence
  • other related matters that arise in the course of the review.

IPSO said the review will be published within six months.

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