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  5. Attempted new Press regulator has no legitimacy in Scotland, says SNS
Max Moseley is funding the IMPRESS project
Max Mosley is funding the IMPRESS project

The attempt to set up a newspaper regulator funded by former  Formula One boss Max Mosley has no legitimacy in Scotland because it has no Scottish representation and only one Scottish website to regulate, according to the Scottish Newspaper Society.

The SNS today submitted a statement to the Press Recognition Panel which had called for responses to the application by the IMPRESS group which Mosley finances. The PRP  was established under the UK Government’s Royal Charter framework to set up a regulator which would comply with all recommendations contained in the Leveson Report and be answerable to both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

The newspaper industry has established an independent regulator, IPSO, which will not seek recognition from the PRP because of the political control involved in its rules.

All major news publishers in Scotland are members of IPSO, but only one small Scottish website, The Ferret, has volunteered to be regulated by IMPRESS.

Scottish Newspaper Society Director John McLellan said today: “IMPRESS has no Scottish representation on any of its bodies, but Scottish membership of all IPSO’s boards is guaranteed in its articles of association. And with only one minor political website on its books it simply cannot be taken seriously in Scotland.  Proper representation in Scotland requires direct knowledge of Scottish readers, publications and the political landscape and in this regard  IMPRESS doesn’t even come woefully short.”

The SNS statement adds:  “IMPRESS is a body with no Scottish input and only one very small Scottish customer. If there is a sham regulator in Scotland, it is IMPRESS and it is very difficult to see how it can lay claim to being a regulator for the whole of the UK’s publishing industry.”

The full statement can be read here.

The SNS supports an extensive analysis of the IMPRESS system (which can be read here) submitted to the PRP by the News Media Association, which represents most major UK news publishers,

The NMA believes that IMPRESS has failed to address other concerns about its suitability as a regulator including:

  • IMPRESS’ dependency for its funding on Max Mosley, a wealthy donor engaged in a personal campaign to bring the press to heel following tabloid revelations about his own private life;
  • IMPRESS’ lack of credibility as a regulator due to the absence of any support from the mainstream press industry. IMPRESS was created by individuals seeking to reform the press rather than from a desire to implement self regulation;
  • Its lack of a standards code which means that neither the PRP nor its own participating publishers know anything about the code of standards it expects its members to observe. This alone should automatically disqualify it from recognition;
  • IMPRESS is financially unsustainable because the Mosley funding could be withdrawn at any time, any income from the handful of participating hyperlocal publishers would not cover its stationery bill, and the fees proposed for large publishers would be far too high to attract any members;
  • The lack of hands on experience of the press industry among the members of the IMPRESS Board. A regulator needs individuals with experience and reputations in the industry it seeks to regulate in order to be credible;
  • Its failure to address concerns around the costs of its proposed arbitration scheme.

The PRP must determine whether or not IMPRESS should qualify as a legitimate Press regulator and this is the second time IMPRESS has been given a chance to comply.