Newspapers that deliberately break the rules of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) will be “damned” but will not face massive fines, according to IPSO’s chairman.
Sir Alan Moses was speaking to a gathering of the Society of Editors in Southhampton yesterday, his first speech to the industry since IPSO was launched. He said that mistakes would always happen and he did not want a “boring, defensive” press but if newspapers deliberately broke the rules, IPSO would damn them.
“But if you do so deliberately, flagrantly, without caring one jot whether you break the code or not, Ipso will damn you.
We want a free, fair and unruly press ruled only by an independent regulator, Ipso, who will support you and encourage you to remain free, fair and unruly.”
Sir Alan Moses
Speaking about ISPO’s ability to fine newspapers £1 million or 1% of their annual turnover, he said that successful regulation would not be established by “firing a big bazooka”. Sir Alan said that while IPSO was described as self-regulation, it was really an independent regulator that worked with publications agreeing to be governed by it and the press would lose trust if they failed to cooperate. Currently, The Guardian, The Independent and the Financial Times are three main newspapers not backing IPSO.
Referring to the prospect of exemplary fines, Sir Alan said: “When Ipso was launched we were all told how different the regulatory regime would be now that there was power to fine up to £1m or 1% of annual turnover.
“And they said, ‘there you are… now you can show your mettle by fining someone £1m, that’s what you need’.
“You only have to say that, to see how unlikely it is. Proper successful independent regulation will not be established by manic firing of a big bazooka.”
Writing in The Guardian, Jane Martinson said that the former High Court Judge would be “no journalists’ patsy” and IPSO was unlikely to use power that its predecessor the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) did not have.
Judge me by my fairness and find solace in it, urges Moses in a Sunday speech he refuses to call a sermon. The questions still remain whether that will be enough to satisfy those victims of press intrusion who consider Ipso a sham. Or even an industry looking to a respected and reasonable judge to remove the threat of government interference.
[Image: Alan Stanton]