The chairman of the Regulatory Funding Company (RFC), which funds the Independent Press Standards Organisation, has stepped down from the post, it was announced today.
Paul Vickers, formerly secretary and group legal director of Trinity Mirror, has resigned as a director and chairman with immediate effect.
He said that having devoted a huge amount of time to setting up the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), he did not want his position to be used by its enemies "as a weapon with which to beat it".
Trinity Mirror publicly apologised recently for phone-hacking and said civil claims would cost the company more than first thought, increasing the provision for the scandal by £8 million to £12 million.
Vickers said: "My term as chairman of the Regulatory Funding Company was always subject to my re-election at the AGM in May. I had indicated privately some time ago that I would not be putting myself up for re-election, as mentioned by John Whittingdale at the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing on 24th February.
"I believe passionately in voluntary independent self-regulation of the press. Ipso is not perfect but it is the best chance that we have of establishing a proper system in the UK. It has the support of the vast majority of the press and has an excellent and robust chairman in Sir Alan Moses.
"Having devoted a huge amount of my time to setting up Ipso, I do not want my position to be used by its enemies and the enemies of a robust free press as a weapon with which to beat it.
"I have therefore told the board of the RFC that I have brought forward my departure date and resigned as a director and chairman with immediate effect."
The RFC is charged with raising a levy on the news media and magazine industries to finance IPSO.
Campaign group Hacked Off had called on Vickers to resign.
Evan Harris, associate director of Hacked Off, said: “Only newspaper corporations which care nothing about the damage done to the innocent victims of the criminal abuse in their industry, and even less about the cover-ups or codes of silence which they have been engaged in, could think it acceptable for the body which controls the budget and the rules of the press regulator to have Paul Vickers at its head
“Paul Vickers was the legal director of Trinity Mirror for all the years that the industrial-scale hacking has now been admitted to have taken place across all three of its national titles.”