The newspaper industry body has launched legal action in a bid to get the decision to make Impress the official press watchdog overturned.
Lawyers acting for the News Media Association have written today to the Press Recognition Panel in response to its decision last week to recognise Impress, which is funded by Max Mosley.
The NMA argues the Impress scheme of regulation “falls short of the recognition criteria in a number of material respects which are not capable of cure” and that there are grounds for judicial review of the decision.
One of the areas highlighted in the letter is the source of funding of Impress, which the NMA says is “a matter of grave concern” and in contravention of the Royal Charter – which states the watchdog must be financed independently.
The letter reads: “This is the backbone of the recommendations in the Leveson report which gave rise to the Royal Charter.”
Other areas highlighted include the absence of an Impress standards code, its failure to establish a system of self-regulation for relevant publishers and the lack of any prospect that Impress will ever be able effectively to regulate the press.
The letter continues: “Sir Brian Leveson stated that a regulatory body should ‘be established by the industry, that it be able to secure the voluntary support and membership of the entire industry’.
“Impress clearly fails to meet this requirement… Impress is, quite simply, unable effectively to regulate the press as it will not secure membership or support of a significant part of the industry, let alone its entirety.”
The recognistion of Impress potentially opens the way to the implementation of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which states that any publisher not signed-up to an approved regulator would have to pay both sides’ costs in a libel or privacy action, whether they win or lose.
However industry leaders are confident the controversial clause will never be activated after culture secretary Karen Bradley suggested she would take a fresh look at the issue.