NewspapersThe IMPRESS Project and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) have launched an arbitration service to resolve media law disputes involving journalists and announced the appointment of  Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, as the Chair of the IMPRESS Appointment Panel.

The arbitration service will offer affordable access to justice.  This was one of Sir Brian Leveson’s central recommendations for press regulators in his November 2012 report. The IMPRESS Arbitration Scheme is designed to provide an alternative to adversarial media law litigation and to remove the problem of astronomical legal costs which can be used by bullying litigants to block investigative journalism.

Launching the scheme, Anthony Abrahams, Director General of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, said:

Providing certainty in dispute resolution is an efficient, cost effective way of resolving disputes and is at the core of our overall objectives. Providing such a service in bringing a resolution for problems arising from media disputes is an initiative we are pleased and proud to be part of.

Jonathan Heawood, Founding Director of the IMPRESS Project, said:

An arbitration scheme was one of Lord Justice Leveson’s core recommendations. Any regulator must be able to offer a service that can deal with legal claims against the press quickly, fairly and cheaply.
This agreement makes IMPRESS the first press regulator to offer an arbitration service. It is the next step towards establishing IMPRESS: the Independent Monitor for the Press as a credible press regulator that meets Leveson’s recommendations on independence from politicians and the newspaper industry.

On 25 July 2014, the IMPRESS Project confirmed that Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, had accepted the position of Chair of the IMPRESS Appointment Panel.

Mr White, who has previously worked as a journalist for national and regional newspapers including the Guardian and the Birmingham Post and Mail, has a track record of defending press freedom, including campaigning for the National Union of Journalists and serving as general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists for 24 years. In that time, he helped create the world’s largest organisation of journalists, with members in 126 countries.

Mr White is also Chair of Internews, the leading media development charity, and a trustee of Statewatch, which monitors security and justice policy in the UK and Europe. He is an expert on press freedom and ethical journalism in countries including Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt.

Aidan White said:

 “I’m delighted to accept the position of Chair of the Appointment Panel. IMPRESS aspires to be a leader in providing independent regulation of the press  for  the digital age.  I look forward to working alongside the rest of the Panel as we select the Board of IMPRESS that will play a crucial role in helping to build public confidence in journalism after the scandals of recent years.”

Mr White was appointed to this post by the IMPRESS Project Board, which consists of Lisa Appignanesi OBE, Isabel Hilton OBE and Professor Alastair Mullis.

The Appointment Panel will select the members of the Board of IMPRESS: the Independent Monitor for the Press, the press regulator which will be independent of newspaper owners and politicians. IMPRESS will regulate publications which believe in the importance of high professional standards, a complaints system free at the point of use and a truly neutral regulator.

Jonathan Heawood, Founding Director of IMPRESS, said:

“I’m glad to welcome Aidan to this role. He is an outstanding example of a campaigning journalist who has dedicated his career to defending the freedom and integrity of professional journalism. With his understanding of press freedom, both in the UK and internationally, he is the ideal person to lead the work of the Appointment Panel as they select an independent Board for IMPRESS.”

Launched in December 2013, The IMPRESS Project has the support of leading journalists and free speech campaigners including Sir Harold Evans, the award-winning former Editor of the SundayTimes. The IMPRESS Project is developing a regulator, IMPRESS, which meets the criteria for independence and effectiveness set out in the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press.

Mr White will select the remaining members of the Appointment Panel together with the IMPRESS Project Board. The announcement of the full Appointment Panel will be made during August.