Following a robust assessment, the PRP Board has decided that IMPRESS meets all its criteria, including independence from the print and online publishers it regulates, and appropriate funding, making it the UK’s first independent press regulator. Recognition was granted at a meeting in London on 25th October.
IMPRESS meets all twenty-nine criteria of the Charter which – in England and Wales – sits alongside the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Since 3rd November 2015, under the Act, publishers who are not a member of an approved regulator could face the threat of exemplary damages in egregious privacy cases – a regime previously unknown in the English or Welsh systems of press litigation. Publishers who are members of an approved regulator would be protected from this.
As part of the assessment process, the PRP provided three opportunities for the public and third parties to review IMPRESS’ application and provide feedback to the PRP. Several people and organisations took up the opportunity, and the PRP received further submissions in the lead up to the meeting. All the relevant information was considered by the PRP Board when making its decision. All the information received during the calls for information will be published on the PRP’s website within 30 days, alongside the IMPRESS application, the PRP’s assessment report and the Board’s final decision.
Following the announcement, David Wolfe, Chair of the PRP Board, said: “The Royal Charter plays a role in ensuring the freedom of the press while protecting the interests of the public.”
Commenting, Walter Merricks CBE, chair of IMPRESS said, “The PRP decision is good news for the press and good news for the public. This is the next important step in building a new era of trust between journalists and the public and a significant moment in the history of press regulation in this country. For the first time news publishers, both large and small, have the choice to join an independent press regulator which is not controlled by major publishers….We believe that independent press regulation meets a real public need. As a truly independent regulator, that is not part of the newspaper industry, we can put decent standards and accuracy at the heart of news publishing, dealing with complaints fairly and with impartiality.”
Sir Harold Evans, variously editor of The Northern Echo, The Sunday Times and The Times has said, “The democratic ideal and necessity of a free, cultivated and honest press requires monitoring by a body – independent of ownership – to hold journalism to the highest standards of truth and integrity and respect for the rights of individuals. Without that independent monitoring, gross abuses, of the kind we have endured and continue to experience, will continue. I support IMPRESS and the publishers that have committed to its standards.”
Recordings of the meeting is available online https://www.periscope.tv/PRPanel. The meeting was divided into several parts, so there are a number of videos. The first video is here: https://www.periscope.tv/PRPanel/1ypJdAjEwwdxW?