Victims of media intrusion have branded Britain’s new press regulator a “sham” at a demonstration held today at its launch.
In a letter handed into the offices of the newly founded Independent Press Standards organisation (IPSO), victims of press intrusion, including Kate and Gerry McCann and the sister of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, claimed that the new body does not meet the full recommendations of the 2012 Leveson report into press ethics.
The letter read: "IPSO retains no credibility with us or with the wider British public."
However, the new regulator's chairman Sir Alan Moses said: “IPSO aims to help rebuild public trust in the press through independent, fair and transparent regulation. Its role as an independent regulator is to provide support and redress for victims of press abuse. To raise standards is to protect the public from abuse.”
Moses did confirm this morning that the new body has yet to agree a budget with its member organisations and that he expected this would be: “substantially more" than the £2.5m per annum spent by its predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission.
He added: “Where standards have been breached we will apply sanctions and seek redress. Where we see patterns of poor behaviour we will pursue change. Democracy depends on a free but fair press. Through independent regulation IPSO will make an important contribution to that vital objective.”
In a report last year the independent Media Standards Trust claimed that IPSO met only 12 of the 38 Leveson recommendations that were needed for a press self-regulator to be independent and effective.
However, many industry figures have backed the new regulator and claimed that the alternative would be "state control of the press" which would be an unacceptable limit on freedom of expression.
Joan Smith, executive director of campaign group Hacked Off, which organised today's event, commentated: "Neither we, nor victims of press abuse, nor the wider public will accept a sham regulator that fails to meet the Leveson criteria of independence and effectiveness and which refuses to be subject to the audit that Lord Justice Leveson said was vital to prevent a repeat of the disastrous failures of the past."
Most national newspaper groups have announced they will join IPSO with the only the Guardian media group and Financial Times announcing they will not, while The Independent is yet to make a decision.