The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the largest independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. It was established on Monday 8 September 2014 following the windup of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which had been the main industry regulator of the press in the United Kingdom since 1990.
IPSO exists to promote and uphold the highest professional standards of journalism, and to support members of the public in seeking redress where they believe that the Editors' Code of Practice has been breached. The Editors' Code deals with issues such as accuracy, invasion of privacy, intrusion into grief or shock and harassment. IPSO considers concerns about editorial content in newspapers and magazines, and about the conduct of journalists.
IPSO handles complaints and conducts its own investigations into editorial standards and compliance. It also undertakes monitoring work, including by requiring publications to submit annual compliance reports. IPSO has the power, where necessary, to require the publication of prominent corrections and critical adjudications, and may ultimately fine publications in cases where failings are particularly serious and systemic.
The Leveson Inquiry reported in November 2012, recommending the establishment of a new independent body. The PCC had received extensive criticism for its lack of action in the News International phone hacking scandal, including from MPs and Prime Minister David Cameron, who called for it to be replaced with a new system in July 2011. The Leveson Inquiry concluded that a legal framework was necessary to give a new regulatory body powers of enforcement such as exemplary damages and suggested the possibility of a Royal Charter to provide this.
This route was accepted by David Cameron and, following extensive political discussion, a Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press was granted by the Privy Council in October 2013, despite legal challenges by newspaper publishers (Pressbof) to prevent it. The publishers characterised the Charter as "deeply illiberal" and presented their own alternative proposals, which the High Court did not accept as they did not comply with the principles set out in the Leveson report, including independence and access to arbitration.
The industry therefore continued with its own proposals, despite fears that industry representatives would still have powers of veto over the chairman and other board members. The Media Standards Trust also published a critique analysing in detail where the proposals met and fell short of Leveson's recommendations.
One of the government's commitments in implementing the Inquiry's recommendations related to the idea that, while the industry should regulate itself, there should be some independent verification (or "recognition") of the regulatory arrangements the press put in place. The Press Recognition Panel was created on 3 November 2014 as a fully independent body with the purpose of carrying out activities in relation to the recognition of press regulators. IPSO has said that it will not seek approval from the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), which has officially recognised the regulator IMPRESS.. The Hacked Off campaign has described IPSO as a "sham" and "the illusion of reform".
Several of the broadsheet newspapers, including the Financial Times, The Independent and The Guardian, have declined to take part in IPSO. The Financial Times and The Guardian have established their own independent complaints systems instead.