The UK Press Regulation Panel has begun accepting applications from UK press regulators seeking independent assessment of their work in order to be recognised as ‘approved regulators’.
To be approved regulators must demonstrate that they meet the provisions of the Charter to ensure independence from publishers, adequate funding, an ability to protect the public from unlawful press action and the ability to act in such cases.
David Wolfe QC, chair of the PRP, said: “The PRP is part of the new regulatory system created post Leveson to ensure the freedom of the press whilst protecting the interests of the public.”
“The provisions of the 2013 Crime and Courts Act are designed to protect recognised regulators from the threat of paying exemplary damages and legal costs in defamation, privacy and libel cases. This incentive, along with access to an arbitration scheme, is designed to ensure that brave journalism is not hampered by the threat of legal costs, and of course allow regulators to make a make clear public statement that they are adhering to a framework designed to protect both the public and press freedom.”
Hugh Tomlinson QC, chair of Hacked Off added: “Victims of press abuse will welcome this as major progress because it means that in due course, a responsible and accountable regulator will be recognised by the Panel. At that point ordinary people - who presently can not afford to bring claims of libel or intrusion against powerful newspapers - will be able to bring claims, free and at no cost risk, in the High Court against newspapers who have refused to join the recognised Leveson-compliant regulator which will be available to them."
“It is also good news for investigative websites and small newspapers which, by joining a recognised regulator, will for the first time gain immunity from expensive costs awards and the threat of exemplary damages if they are sued."