Press takes fight against Mosley-backed regulator to Court of Appeal

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Oct 16, 2017
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Max Mosley, the former Formula One boss and privacy campaigner, provides Impress with much of its funding

Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

Media organisations will try to appeal against a High Court ruling that it was legal to grant recognition to the press regulator funded by Max Mosley.

Last week Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Popplewell rejected claims that the Press Recognition Panel should not have authorised Impress as the state-approved press watchdog. The News Media Association, which represents national, regional and local media, including The Times, had argued that Impress’s third-party funding arrangements and its lack of support from large publishers meant that it should not have been granted recognition. Mosley is a former president of Formula One and a privacy campaigner.

The two judges dismissed all six of the association’s arguments and refused leave to appeal. However, the association confirmed to The Brief that it would seek leave directly from the Court of Appeal.

In a statement the association said: “[The High Court ruling] 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 1500 print titles and 1100 websites are signed up to.”

The association reiterated its point that 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”. 

A recent internal investigation at Impress found that Jonathan Heawood, its chief executive, had breached the organisation’s own standards by retweeting posts that described several mainstream UK newspapers as fascist and racist.

Three barristers from Blackstone Chambers in the Temple were in the front line for the High Court challenge. Acting for the association was Lord Pannick, QC, who was instructed by the law firm RPC. Ben Jaffey, QC, appeared for the Press Recognition Panel, instructed by in-house lawyers, while Tom Hickman, a senior-junior, appeared for Impress, which was an interested party; he was instructed by the London law firm Bindmans.

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