IPSO Blog: Reflecting on the Chairmanship of Sir Alan Moses

Standards & Communications Co-ordinator Hanno Fenech shares highlights from Sir Alan Moses In Conversation with Daily Mirror Editor Alison Phillips. 

Last Wednesday, departing Chairman Sir Alan Moses sat down at the Law Society in London for a wide ranging discussion with Editor of the Daily Mirror, Alison Phillips.

Sir Alan opened the discussion and took the opportunity to reflect on his tenure as the inaugural Chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Taking the audience back to the tumultuous era of the phone hacking scandal and subsequent Leveson Inquiry, Sir Alan spoke of the need for a new system of regulation from the remnants of the PCC and his own role in building IPSO.

Moving through his tenure, Sir Alan detailed the enormous contribution of IPSO’s complaints and standards functions in resolving disputes and upholding journalistic standards, including the training of hundreds of journalists and the successful resolution of thousands of complaints. 

If sceptics might suspect the editor of the Daily Mirror (an IPSO-regulated title) to be indulgent in questioning their regulator, Alison Phillips quickly demonstrated the opposite with a series of complex questions at the heart of the debate about press regulation.

Alison challenged Sir Alan on Clause 12 of the Editors’ Code of Practice (the rules under which IPSO regulates the press), which states that “press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.” Sir Alan and Alison explored how Clause 12 applies only to individuals, rather than groups, and discussed the merits and detriments of widening its applicability.

Sir Alan concluded that group discrimination is the ‘greatest issue’ the press regulator has grappled with, but also explained that in his opinion, it would be difficult to extend the clause to include groups because of the challenges that would present to freedom of expression.

Sir Alan reflected that, in his opinon, IPSO’s crowning achievement during his tenure has been engagement: “Engagement has worked because daily we have striven to strike a balance, a balanced that is almost impossible always to get right, but that is always worth striving for. And that is the balance between freedom of expression and the restriction necessary to obey rules and protect the public.” IPSO, said Sir Alan, would continue to be the bridge between “those who feel they have not had a voice when faced with the press and the press themselves”.

Listen to the full discussion, and other podcasts, via the IPSO podcast here.