External Review Finds IPSO Stands Up To Scrutiny

An external review carried out by former Permanent Secretary Sir Joseph Pilling into the independence and effectiveness of IPSO has found it to be an effective regulator which is taken seriously by newspapers and editors but remains sufficiently independent of the industry.  

The review investigated both the effectiveness and independence of IPSO. The review accepts that it is an uphill task for IPSO to prove that it deserves to be trusted as an independent regulator, but it found there was no evidence of IPSO’s decision-taking being improperly influenced by the industry. It also found:

  • IPSO’s upholding of a complaint is taken very seriously by the industry and by editors specifically;
  • the Editors’ Code of Conduct should continue to be the responsibility of the Editors’ Code Committee as presently constituted. The committee’s constitution should limit the length of time that anyone may serve on the committee (except the chair and the chief executive of IPSO) to two terms of three years;
  • the assistance provided by the staff of IPSO to complainants who do not understand the system is of high quality;
  • the public can feel confident that the process of appointing the IPSO board and chair is sufficiently independent of the industry.

Evidence for the review was gathered from a variety of sources, including complainants, academics and the media. The review found IPSO is an effective independent regulator which encourages publications to deal with complaints before it has to intervene. IPSO has handled a number of high profile cases. 

Sir Joseph said: “In conducting this review I heard from a wide variety of people from complainants to the media. Everyone at IPSO has been scrupulous about not interfering in the review but we could have made no progress at all without a great deal of practical help.  I hope that this report provides a useful analysis of the work that IPSO has done to date, and offers some guidance about how it can in future work to build on early promise and commitment.”

The review did recommend changes to the articles of association of the Regulatory Funding Company and the constitution of the Editors’ Code Committee.

 The review also recommended that it should be possible to seek a review of the Complaints Committee’s decision on the ground of substance as well as process. IPSO should also produce an annual table of adjudications and complaints against each member, broken down by publication, the review stated.

To ensure continued independence the review has recommended that the RFC’s Articles of Association should oblige it to agree a budget for IPSO for five years rather than annually.