High Court Rules on Judicial Review of PRP Decision to Recognise IMPRESS

In a judgment published today, the High Court has upheld the status of IMPRESS as the first self-regulatory body for the press in UK history to be externally recognised as independent and effective.

At a meeting held in public on 25 October 2016, and following a nine-month process, the Press Recognition Panel (PRP) confirmed that IMPRESS meets the standards expected of an independent and effective press regulator, as set out in the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press (‘the Charter’).

The News Media Association (NMA), which represents the UK’s largest newspaper publishers, had asked the court to overturn this decision. The court rejected the NMA’s claim in its entirety and found that the PRP had behaved properly by recognising IMPRESS under the Charter.

The court said that aspects of the NMA’s claim rested on a fallacy. It described some of the NMA’s arguments as ‘unattractive’ and ‘hopeless’. It found that the Charter does not require a particular proportion of the news publishing industry to sign up to a regulator in order for it to be recognised. The court also found that regulated publishers are not obliged to cover the full costs of the regulator, which might well be supported by a third party such as a charitable trust.

In a statement, the Chair of IMPRESS, Walter Merricks CBE, said:

‘This judgment shows that the system of externally verified self-regulation, recommended by Sir Brian Leveson, is fully functional. We can now get on with the important job of upholding high standards of journalism. At a time when the news publishing industry is under massive pressure, IMPRESS is uniquely able to reduce publishers’ legal risks and enhance their standing in the eyes of audiences and advertisers. We are grateful for the ongoing support of the NUJ, Sir Harry Evans and many others in and around the industry, and sorry that the NMA have wasted so much time attacking IMPRESS, which meets the standards that they refuse to meet.’

The court ordered the NMA to pay IMPRESS’s costs in preparing and submitting witness statements by Walter Merricks and Jonathan Heawood.

To read the full judgment, click here.