Read our new manifesto

Ipso has ‘huge job’ to do in gaining public confidence on press regulation, admits new board member Charles McGhee

The new press industry regulator Ipso has a “huge job” to do in order to gain the public’s trust in the self-regulation of the press, according to Charles McGhee, a member of the organisation’s inaugural board.

Board: Charles McGhee

Speaking to The Drum following Wednesday’s announcement of the first Ipso board, McGhee, an honorary professor of journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University and former editor of The Herald, said that while work remains to be done, he believed the appointment of Sir Alan Moses as chair of the board last month sent out the right message.

“Ipso has still got a long way to go before it gets properly up and running, and then it’s a question of the board establishing itself very quickly as far as the public is concerned,” he said. “It has a huge job to do in terms of restoring public confidence in the press and the system of press regulation that’s being proposed through Ipso.

“I think that’s got off to a very good start by appointing Sir Alan Moses as its first chairman. He is a former Appeal Court judge and he is an extremely strong and independent person. I think that immediately sends a good signal that the new Ipso organisation will be independent-minded and will be taking a different approach from the old PCC.”

McGhee said that the outgoing PCC, which will stay in operation until the launch of Ipso in September, differed in key areas from the new system, namely in that it had far greater powers to impose sanctions on newspapers and pro-actively carry out investigations where evidence indicated possible wrongdoing within the industry.

Ipso will also, he added, prevent serving newspaper editors from sitting on the complaints committee, another departure from the PCC’s structure.

“In lots of significant ways there are substantial differences between Ipso and the PCC which I think again will send a signal to the public that we not only take the future of press regulation very seriously, but we have put in place an agreement with the newspaper industry that demonstrates not only our independence, but the power that we will have to take action against newspapers that breach the editor’s code.”

McGhee spoke as fresh controversy erupted over the future of press regulation when the Hillsborough Family Support Group slammed Ipso for appointing former Sun executive William Newman to the board.

Newman once signed a letter defending the paper’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989 which refused to apologise for the “substance” of the Sun’s coverage of events. The Sun did eventually apologise in 2012, saying it was “profoundly sorry” for coverage headlined “The Truth” that accused football fans of stealing from the dead and behaving violently towards police.

Sir Alan Moses is expected to address the issue in an interview with Friday’s edition of the Liverpool Echo.

Meanwhile, Ipso opposition group Hacked Off has announced journalist and phone-hacking victim Joan Smith as executive director, replacing Professor Brian Cathcart in the role next month.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis