Joan Smith becomes president of press reform campaign Hacked Off


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The Independent Online

The journalist and free speech campaigner Joan Smith has been announced as the next executive director of the press reform campaign Hacked Off.

Ms Smith, who was a victim of phone hacking by the News of the World, is a longstanding supporter of the campaign, which is closely associated with high-profile backers including the actors Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan.

She takes over from the journalism professor Brian Cathcart and her appointment comes as the newspaper industry is setting up its own regulatory body in defiance of a Royal Charter on press reform approved by Parliament.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is due to begin work in September under the leadership of the Appeal Court judge Sir Alan Moses. IPSO announced this week that its board would include the Innocent drinks co-founder Richard Reed and retired British diplomat Sir Tom Phillips.

Hacked Off has been highly critical of IPSO, comparing it to its predecessor body the Press Complaints Commission, and Ms Smith said the campaign still had work to do.

“As a journalist, I’m passionate about the need to bring ethics back into the heart of the British press; as a target of phone hacking, I know how much damage intrusive reporting has done to individuals and the reputation of the industry,” she said. “I am thrilled to take on the role as Executive Director at Hacked Off. With the 2015 general election on the horizon, it is time for decisive action on press self-regulation.”