Plan to create new Press watchdog

Newspapers and magazines took the first steps yesterday towards setting up a new press watchdog in the wake of the phone hacking scandal – and were immediately criticised by campaigners.

Plans for the creation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which will have the power to impose fines of up to £1m and force editors to publish upfront corrections, will go out
to consultation with publishers following Lord Justice Leveson’s call for a new regulator to be created.

But Hacked Off, which represents some of the victims of phone hacking, claimed the move was a “cynical rebranding exercise” that showed the industry was “determined to hold on to the power to bully the public without facing any consequences”.

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Documents drawn up by the Industry Implementation Group will be considered by more
than 200 publishers before
 being finalised in the next few weeks.

They set out the structure and rules of the organisation, echoing those outlined in the royal charter put forward by the industry earlier this year, which is going before the Privy Council.

That process may take months but the industry is pushing ahead with the creation of the independent self-regulator now because “the industry does not believe the public can be expected to wait longer before a new regulator is put in place”, according to a statement yesterday.