IMPRESS, The Independent Monitor for the Press, yesterday announced the members of its first Board.They will join Walter Merricks CBE, whose appointment as the first Chair of IMPRESS was announced in November 2014, to launch the new organisation, which will introduce the first ever system of independent and effective press regulation.
The Board members are Deborah Arnott, former broadcast journalist and now Chief Executive of the charity ASH; Iain Christie, barrister and Secretary of the Civil Mediation Council; Sue Evison, former Chief Feature Writer of The Sun; Máire Messenger Davies, former journalist and now Professor of Media Studies at the University of Ulster; David Robinson, Founding CEO of the life insurance company Bright Grey; and Patrick Swaffer, President of the British Board of Film Classification.
Walter Merricks, Chair Designate of IMPRESS, said:
‘This is a hugely impressive group of people. They bring great experience in the fields of journalism, law, business development, non-profit leadership and media regulation, which will be vital to IMPRESS as we take the organisation forward in 2015. I am very much looking forward to working with all of them.’
Merricks and his fellow Board members were nominated by the IMPRESS Appointment Panel, chaired by the distinguished journalist and press freedom campaigner Aidan White.
Aidan White, Chair of the IMPRESS Appointment Panel, said:
‘We are thrilled to have recruited such a remarkable line-up for the first Board of IMPRESS. It has been an honour to chair the Appointment Panel, and I am grateful to the other Panel members for their time and energy. I expect that with a Board of this calibre IMPRESS will develop rapidly over the coming months and years.’
About the IMPRESS Board
- Walter Merricks CBE (Chair) was the first Chief Ombudsman of the Financial Ombudsman Service, with responsibility for an organisation of 1,500 staff and a £90m budget. He is a member of the Gambling Commission and has been involved in dispute resolution and regulation in the fields of legal services, healthcare, insurance, energy and intellectual property among others. He qualified as a solicitor and has also worked as a legal journalist and academic.
- Deborah Arnott is Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), which has a reputation as one of the UK’s most effective campaigning charities. She was awarded the Alwyn Smith prize by the Faculty of Public Health for her role in getting the ban on smoking in public places. After gaining an MBA from Cranfield and working in print and TV journalism she set up and ran the Financial Service Authority’s consumer education function. As a producer and programme editor in current affairs and documentaries she developed and ran a wide range of programmes for ITV and Channel 4.
- Iain Christie is a mediator, facilitator and actor with a background as a barrister in human rights and media law. He is an Associate Member of 5RB, the media and entertainment law chambers, having previously served as a legal adviser in HM Diplomatic Service. He is joint Consultant Editor of Tugendhat and Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media. Iain is Secretary of the Civil Mediation Council and has a particular interest in dispute and conflict resolution through dialogue.
- Sue Evison is a journalist who has worked across all areas of the industry, including as an executive, interviewer, writer and reporter. She began her career at The Solihull News after taking a course with the National Council for the Training of Journalists. She later moved to The Birmingham Post and Mail before heading for Fleet Street, first as a news reporter for The People and later as a high-level executive and writer for The Sun and celebrity interviewer for Hello! magazine. She has worked as a freelance writer since 2006.
- Máire Messenger Davies is Emerita Professor of Media Studies at Ulster University. After working as a journalist on regional newspapers and magazines, she gained a psychology PhD. She has taught in media schools in Boston, Cardiff and London and has conducted research with Ofcom, the IBA, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the BBC and the DCMS. She is on the board of the Children’s Media Foundation and is the author of several books, includingTelevision is Good for Your Kids.
- David Robinson founded the life insurance business Bright Grey in 2001 and grew it swiftly into a commercial success, employing more than 350 staff and overtaking established competitors. An actuary, he previously worked for 30 years at Scottish Provident and more recently as Chair of Engage Mutual Assurance. David is a Governor of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and former Chair of its Audit and Risk Committee. He is also a founder Trustee and Chair of the charity Smalls for All, which supports vulnerable women and children in Africa through the provision of essential personal items.
- Patrick Swaffer is President of the British Board of Film Classification, the independent non-statutory body which provides trusted classification for film and video. He also sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court and is a partner in Media Compliance Services. He was for more than 30 years a solicitor with the firm Goodman Derrick, specialising in media law and working principally with broadcasters and book publishers. He frequently advised such clients when disputes arose regarding contentious material both prior to and after publication.
Launched in December 2013, The IMPRESS Project (company limited by guarantee, number 8768595) has the support of leading journalists and free speech campaigners including Sir Harold Evans, the award-winning former Editor of the Sunday Times.
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. The aims of IMPRESS and its prospectus are available at: impressproject.org
The Board of IMPRESS was nominated by an independent Appointment Panel, in line with the requirements in the Royal Charter. The Board will begin work in January 2015. They will in due course decide whether IMPRESS should seek recognition under the Royal Charter.