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NMA set to appeal after High Court rejects challenge over Impress

NMALogonewThe News Media Association is to appeal after the High Court rejected its challenge against the decision to make Impress the official press watchdog.

The NMA, the trade body for the regional and national press, says it will be seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal following the judgement.

The organisation took action in response to the Press Recognition Panel’s decision to recognise Impress, which is funded by Max Mosley, in October last year.

The NMA argued the PRP “erred in law” by concluding that Impress meets its criteria of being an “independent self-regulatory body”.

However the court rejected the NMA’s claim in its entirety and found that the PRP had behaved properly by recognising IMPRESS under the Charter.

Judges ruled 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, and that it was lawful for the costs of the regulator to be supported by a third party.

Chair of Impress Walter Merricks said: ‘This judgment shows that the system of externally verified self-regulation, recommended by Sir Brian Leveson, is fully functional.

“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.”

A spokesman for the NMA said: “We are deeply disappointed by the Court’s decision but maintain that the PRP’s decision to recognise IMPRESS was deeply flawed.

“Today’s decision does not change the position which is that no significant publishers have signed up to Impress and none will do so. The national and regional newspaper and magazine industry already has an effective and robust self-regulatory system in place through IPSO, which 1,500 print titles and 1,100 websites are signed up to.

“Impress is a state-sponsored regulator funded almost entirely by one wealthy individual, Max Mosley, and headed by a chief executive who has admitted to holding biases against leading newspapers and journalists.

“Impress cannot and never will be a regulator for the UK newspaper industry which remains wholly opposed to Section 40. We will be seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.”

Campaign group Hacked Off welcomed the court decision, claiming it dealt “a further blow to the corporate press industry’s campaign to resist the Leveson reforms.”

Hacked Off joint executive director Dr Evan Harris said: “Victims of press abuse now call upon newspapers to take advantage of the effective independent regulation offered by Impress, secure in the knowledge that its recognition by the PRP was legitimate and lawful, and that the post-Leveson system is here to stay.

Peter Jukes, Director of independent investigative journalism outlet Byline, added: “In bringing this challenge the NMA have disgracefully sought to deprive the local newspapers who have signed up to IMPRESS of the free speech and financial protections they would be afforded under the Leveson system.

“The NMA’s persistent attacks on the freedom of expression, and the viability, of the local independent newspapers who have signed up to independent regulation is an affront to working journalists everywhere, and the NMA should reflect on how they can represent the whole industry rather than simply the wealthiest and most powerful newspaper groups if they are to regain any credibility.”

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