The judge who presided over the Soham murders trial – and is said to have thrown a pile of newspapers across the courtroom in frustration at coverage of the case – has been named as the first head of the new press regulator.
Sir Alan Moses, a Court of Appeal judge, will chair the new Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which has been established by the largest newspaper groups and magazine publishers as a successor to the Press Complaints Commission.
The new regulator which is set to exist separately from the Parliament-approved Royal Charter on press regulation which was drawn up in the wake of the Leveson inquiry, is due to begin work in June. The Financial Times has said it will not join IPSO but will instead establish its own form of regulation. The publishers of The Independent, the London Evening Standard and The Guardian have yet to decide on whether they will sign up to IPSO.
Among the more famous cases dealt with by the judge was the prosecution of renegade MI5 officer David Shayler for passing information to the press in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.
Moses was born in 1945 and was privately educated at Bryanston School and University College, Oxford, before being called to the Bar in 1968.
The retired senior civil servant Sir Hayden Phillips, who was chairman of the selection panel which appointed the IPSO chair, said: “Sir Alan’s qualities meet all of the criteria my panel judged were most relevant in appointing a chair. He is a person of experience and integrity, of independence and vigour, and also personable, approachable and always open to consider new ideas.”
Sir Alan said: “The public and the press are entitled to a successful system of independent regulation. I recognise it is a big responsibility to achieve this. I believe that such a system should be designed to protect the public against a repetition of the breakdown in standards in some parts of the newspaper industry in recent times. At the same time it should affirm and encourage the vital role of a free and fearless press.”
What is IPSO?
It’s the latest in a line of regulatory bodies designed to curb the excesses of the newspaper industry and follows the failed regimes of the Press Complaints Commission and, before that, the Press Council.
Is it what Lord Justice Leveson wanted?
The newspaper publishers who have established IPSO say it follows the key recommendations that Leveson made in his long report and establishes a regulator with unprecedented powers to punish miscreant papers.
Does everyone agree?
Certainly not the campaign group Hacked Off which said that despite Sir Alan’s appointment the “real power” at IPSO “continues to be exerted by the big newspaper companies”.
So will the judge be a pushover?
He says otherwise. In a statement, he promised: “I am determined that there should be no hesitation in dealing with bad practice by newspapers and providing support and vindication for those who suffer as a result of any future breakdown.”
And what of the politicians?
After last year’s approval by the Privy Council of a Parliament-backed Royal Charter on press regulation that process is now in danger of being by-passed altogether. IPSO is unaligned to the Charter and the Financial Times will establish its own regulator. The Independent and The Guardian have yet to decide on their future regulation model.