The news this week has been dominated by the verdicts in the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey. But there have been three important developments this week in relation to press regulation which have not received much in the way of media coverage.
First, a new opinion poll by the YouGov organisation has confirmed overwhelming public support for Leveson-style reform of press self-regulation. Almost seven out of ten of the public wants any new press self-regulator to be subject to periodic audit by a Recognition Panel, as the inquiry report recommended and the Royal Charter intends. The same proportion would not trust a system that did not have such audits and think it could lead to further illegal and unethical press practices. The poll was carried out at the beginning of this month for the Media Standards Trust, and you can read about it here.
Second, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has found that advertisements for IPSO carried in many national newspapers were misleading. The advertisements claimed that IPSO ‘delivered all the key elements Leveson called for’ when this was not true. The ASA has ruled that ‘the ad must not appear again in its current form’. The ruling is a victory for the Media Standards Trust and others, and the ASA investigation also revealed the dubious provenance of the ad, which contained no reference to who had placed it. This turns out to be the ‘Free Speech Network’ – a lobbying group backed set up by the big national newspapers that had previously likened the Leveson recommendations to something from North Korea. Read more about this here.
Third, in an important step towards implementation of the Royal Charter, David Wolfe QC has been appointed first chair of the Recognition Panel which will audit press self-regulators. In line with Charter requirements, the process of choice has been painstakingly open, fair and independent from political or industry interference. He will now join the members of the appointments panel in choosing the board of the panel. Read more about this here.
So, in the week when the number of people convicted of or pleading guilty to phone hacking has risen from to seven, the overwhelming public support for Leveson was confirmed, the Charter process has taken an important step forward and the big newspaper groups have been found guilty of telling the public IPSO delivered Leveson when it doesn’t.