March 6, 2017
On publishing its response, Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “It is over four years since Lord Leveson published his report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. In that time we have yet to see established a system of independent self-regulation for print media that is credible both to the public and the press”.
In Mr Collins’ view, if the vast majority of newspapers and magazines continue to refuse, on principle, to accept regulation under the terms of the Royal Charter, then the Government should “create an alternative path” that would “allow IPSO to become established as the preferred body to take responsibility for the self-regulation of the press”.
However for this to be achieved the Committee believes that IPSO needs to “make substantial progress in establishing a low cost arbitration scheme to consider complaints against the press, to increase the resources at its disposal to launch investigations, and to fund a campaign to inform the public about how and where to make complaints to IPSO”.
If IPSO can make the necessary reforms to become compliant with the spirit of the Leveson recommendations, then the Government should, Mr Collins said, “repeal the provisions within Section 40 that relate to the awarding of costs in court cases taken up against the press”.
As for repealing s 40, Mr Collins said that the Committee did not believe that it should be repealed at this stage, and instead asks that the Government give the press one year to make its proposed regulator, IPSO, Leveson compliant.
Mr Collins explained that, while views of members of the Committee vary on full commencement of the s 40 measures, which seek to reduce the financial risk of bringing a complaint against a paper, the Committee has recommended the partial commencement of s 40(2) now. “This provides publications the carrot of legal protections for their investigative journalism if they sign up to an approved regulator, but without the stick of the threat of costs being awarded against the press even when they win a court case against a complainant”.
As for Leveson 2, the Committee recommends that the Government should now formulate revised terms of reference for this inquiry to avoid duplication with areas already covered by the police investigations and criminal trials completed since the publication of the Leveson Report in November 2012. To access the Committee’s response in full, click here.