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DM2014: Not independent, without standards and unorganised

Chris Frost calls for a free, but responsible, press  -  © Mark Dimmock

13 April 2014

Conference passed a motion condemning the newspaper publishers for setting up a regulation body which ignored many of the Leveson report recommendations, by refusing to let journalists join the code committee, taking only limited, third-party complaints and by refusing to set up an arbitration panel offering cheap redress to the public.

Christ Frost, national executive member, said that journalists had been arrested, charged and some were on trial now for activities, including phone hacking, which led to the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture and ethics of the press.

The NUJ supported a free, but responsible press, he said, and the union had welcomed many of the Leveson report recommendations, but was disappointed that it had avoided calling for limits on media ownership. While the union did not agree that a Royal Charter was the best mechanism to set up a press regulator, the union “welcomed the parliamentary cross-party agreement to set up a body to review the effectiveness of a press regulator”.

He told conference the Independent Press Standards Organisation, set up by the newspaper publishers, was not independent of the industry, was very limited on standards and, as it had had to delay its launch, didn’t seem very organised.

Conference agreed to campaign for a single, self-regulatory system based upon the model of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council operating in Ireland.

It also instructed the national executive to campaign for a regulator that puts press freedom first, is independent of politicians and the industry, has a code with a conscience clause for journalists and an arbitrator providing cheap access to justice for civil claims.

Chris Frost added the union was concerned about a number of the Leveson report's recommendations, for example the changes to the Data Protection Act and Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The union has had one victory in overturning a proposed clause to the Deregulation Bill which would have removed a protection journalists have on their material.

Tags: , leveson, pace, ipso, regulation, dm2014, data protection act, media reform