Thank you to those who have contacted me about regulation of the press.
I believe that a vibrant, open and free press that is able to hold the powerful to account is vital to our democracy. Balanced against this it is not unreasonable to expect the press to act with understanding in relation to sensitive personal stories. Press freedom comes with a responsibility to ensure it is not abused.
I am pleased that following the publication of the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, we have seen great improvements in press regulation with the formation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and Impress, which have the power to hold publications to account, including ordering prominent corrections. Both regulators are independent of Government and enforce Codes of Practice, which include provisions on privacy and intrusion. They both operate free complaints handling systems and low cost arbitration schemes.
In the years since the Leveson Inquiry, many publishers have introduced comprehensive guidance on topics including accuracy and harassment. Where participating publishers fall short of their legal standards, IPSO offers support to victims of libel, slander or malicious falsehood in the form of low-cost arbitration, which offers quick access to fair and independent redress
Around 95 per cent of national newspapers are now overseen by IPSO. Members of IPSO are required to follow the Editors’ Code, which requires journalists to respect people’s right to privacy, stop approaches when asked to do so and to ensure reports are accurate. IPSO can also take action against publishers that do not comply with the Editors’ Code of Practice, as it has done on many occasions.
I know that some feel the Government should intervene to limit the press in the interests of personal privacy, but I am satisfied that there has been sufficient progress made since 2012 that this is not necessary. I am assured that in cases relating to privacy, the individuals affected are able to complain to IPSO who will investigate vigorously and sanction the publication in question if appropriate.