Sir Alan Moses yesterday rejected the suggestion that the Independent Press Standards Organisation was a “sham” regulator, saying it now largely meets the conditions set by the 2012 Leveson report.
The chairman of IPSO appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Media Show to talk about changes to the body’s rules, which he claims have strengthened its powers and independence.
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Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett said IPSO was “widely regarded by critics as a sham” controlled by the newspaper publishers.
On the question of whether it is compliant with the Leveson recommendations, Moses said: “In the main if one goes through the conditions set out by the recognition panel one can readily see that we are in the main." But he added that IPSO still had no intention of applying for official recognition under the Royal Charter process.
Moses said: “When you said IPSO was controlled by the press, I simply don’t know what you mean. It’s quite untrue.”
The changes finalised yesterday include giving IPSO the power to launch investigations when there has been no complaint and a reduction in rules which allowed publishers to resist standards investigations.
Moses said: “What in short we have done is create greater powers to investigate of our own volition, a sanction of quarterly reporting that never existed before and powers to instigate our own complaints…
“My main aim was to change the rules that were set out before IPSO ever came into operation. Everybody said – members of the funding company and the critics said – forget about that, they will never agree. They have agreed, they have submitted to our independent judgment.”
He said there will now be a standing investigation panel ready to launch investigations, which could result in fines of up to £1m. After nearly a year and a half in operation, IPSO has launched no such investigations, but Moses says these will now be easier to launch.
He said: “There was a whole mass of criticism about the room for obfuscation for the press once launched, all of that has had a red line put through it.”
Asked whether he was now confident IPSO was sufficiently independent from the press, Moses said: “That is the most important question. Yes I am.”
Moses revealed that a retired senior civil servant has been appointed provide external validation of IPSO and to take a view on whether it is being an effective regulator.
On whether part two of the Leveson Inquiry should take place, looking at phone-hacking and police relationships with the press, he said: “I don’t have an IPSO view about it, I would love to conduct such an inquiry myself. What is the point of it now that the bribery act has changed to remove the public interest defences?”