The newspaper industry’s PCC replacment body, IPSO announced today [doc] that it had appointed Sir Alan Moses as its first chair. Responding to the appointment, the Executive Director of Hacked Off, Professor Brian Cathcart said:
“The appointment of Sir Alan Moses as chair of IPSO changes nothing when the structure and operation of this “Son of PCC” remain so fatally flawed. The real power continues to be exerted by the big newspaper companies that have a veto over budgets, appointments, the Code, investigations, sanctions or any arbitration scheme.
“IPSO – created with no public consultation whatsoever – is clearly designed to defy the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry on independence, the wishes of all Parliamentary parties and the views of the overwhelming majority of the public. It is a dreadful insult to victims of press abuses, leaving in charge the same shadowy newspaper paymasters who called the shots at the discredited Press Complaints Commission during its worst years and even now.
“External analysis has found that IPSO falls far short of the kind of change Leveson said was necessary, satisfying only 12 out of his 38 specific recommendations. This means that – just like the PCC – IPSO will deny the public fair treatment and will put the interests of editors and proprietors first.
“The best thing Sir Alan Moses could do now is to advise the big newspaper companies to redesign IPSO so that it can meet the basic standards of independence and effectiveness set out in the Leveson Royal Charter. That would give the public the protection from abuses that we know it needs while safeguarding freedom of expression.”
The appointment of the IPSO Chair is the culmination of more than a year of breathtakingly opaque behind-the-scenes deal-making by the power-hungry big newspaper groups, involving three obscure bodies:
The ‘Industry Implementation Group’, chaired by Paul Vickers of Trinity Mirror, who drew up the “draft constitutional documents” for setting up IPSO (published in July 2013).
The ‘Foundation Group’, appointed by the ‘Industry Implementation Group’, chaired by former judge, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. Members include Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun columnist and former political editor; Dame Sue Tinson, a former editor of News at Ten; Lord Chris Smith, the former Labour culture secretary; and Simon Jenkins, the Guardian columnist and former Times editor.
The ‘Appointments Panel’, appointed by the Foundation Group, chaired by former civil servant Sir Hayden Phillips. Members, announced in January 2014, include Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (a former Justice of the Supreme Court), Paul Horrocks (former Editor in Chief of the Manchester Evening News and former member of the PCC), Dame Denise Platt (former Chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection) and John Witherow (the Editor of The Times and former editor of the Sunday Times).
Having proudly and publicly announced an appointments procedure that stressed ‘openness’, the big companies behind IPSO have already found it necessary to bend the rules in a covert mannerto drop this – enabling them to carry on the process behind closed doors. In a snub to the victims of press abuses, Sir Hayden Phiilips and every member of the Appointments Panel refused to meet them to discuss concerns
When IPSO commences operation, it will employ the same secretariat as the PCC, operate from the safe office, with the same company number and the same directors.