We are committed to resolving complaints, where possible and appropriate, on terms which are agreeable to both sides. We expect both parties to a complaint to engage with the process in good faith and to cooperate with our procedures.
We acknowledge that parties may wish to engage in confidential correspondence about press complaints and we do not seek to prevent that. Our processes expressly recognise the right for a complainant to complain directly to a publication in the first instance. However, once we have begun an investigation into a complaint, the existence of simultaneous correspondence between the parties directly inhibits our ability to investigate and mediate in an effective and transparent way. For this reason, during an IPSO investigation, all correspondence about the complaint should be conducted through us and the parties should not engage in separate simultaneous correspondence, whether on an open or without prejudice basis.
Complainants and publications will be notified at the start of our investigation that all correspondence should be conducted through us. If the parties wish to engage in direct correspondence, without our involvement, they should notify us, so that their complaint file can be closed.
Should we become aware that the parties are exchanging correspondence directly, we will ask both parties to cease corresponding outside of the our complaints process. If the complainant declines to do so, their complaint file will be closed and marked as ‘not pursued’. A refusal by a publication to cease corresponding outside of the IPSO process would raise standards concerns, as it would constitute a failure to handle complaints in accordance with our procedures.
Should complainants or publications repeatedly fail to comply with this policy, we will consider taking further action, which may include declining to consider further complaints.