The Jeffrey Review found that IPSO is “well led and managed” and that its “supportive, but challenging engagement to improve standards is ... exactly what an effective regulator should be doing”.
The Review analyses, in detail, IPSO’s governance and management; complaints handling; standards work; external communications; and future direction. It endorses reforms currently under way by IPSO, for example to identify ways to introduce greater prioritisation and efficiency into complaints handling, and makes a number of recommendations for further change:
On the crucial issue of independence, the Review identifies the key question as whether “the structures around IPSO are such as to create a sufficiently arm’s length relationship between it and the industry, and whether the ethos on both sides is one that respects the regulator’s independent role”.
The Review finds that while IPSO is subject to “constraints” due to its governance structures, it is “operating independently”, and that there was "no sign of improper influence by the industry on complaints decisions, or that decisions were taken in other than an impartial way”.
Sir Bill conducted his review of IPSO over the course of six months from October 2022 to March 2023, speaking to a range of internal and external stakeholders.
These included former complainants and others who have engaged with the service; external groups who interact with IPSO in its standards-raising role; IPSO-regulated and non-regulated publishers; and IPSO's Appointment Panel, Board, Complaints Committee and staff members.
The Review was openly advertised, and anyone was free to make a confidential submission directly to Sir Bill and his team.
IPSO chair Edward Faulks said:
“Sir Bill makes several recommendations, some familiar and some novel. We expect to accept most of them relating to IPSO’s operations; in some cases these are already under way. There are some important recommendations relating to IPSO’s governance, which we are considering.”
“His report is a positive affirmation of IPSO’s independence and provides a welcome validation of the worth and relevance of IPSO’s standards work. It shows that, from consistency of complaints handling through to the lack of a divide between our independent and industry committee members, all parties in a complaint are treated fairly.”
IPSO chief executive Charlotte Dewar said:
“We’re extremely grateful to Sir Bill for his thorough work undertaking this review. It makes clear the breadth of IPSO’s work as a regulator and provides useful detail on both complaints handling and our wider work to drive up standards.
“It also offers much for us to consider on how we can further increase our transparency and accessibility as a regulator, in line with our recently published five-year vision.”
You can read Sir Bill Jeffrey's full report here.