hacked-off-logoFormer Manchester Evening News editor Paul Horrocks is under fire from press lobby group Hacked Off after being appointed to the new newspaper regulator, IPSO.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is intended to oversee the industry as an alternative to the state-sponsored regulator proposed by the government.

Horrocks, who stepped down as MEN editor in 2009 and now works as a PR and media consultant, is one of five people who will have the job of appointing IPSO’s chairman and directors.

He is one of two editors named and previously sat on the former regulatory body the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

In a statement, Hacked Off’s director, Professor Brian Cathcart, said: “This shows the newspaper companies’ utter contempt for the very idea of independence. In a process that could hardly be less transparent, they hand-picked a retired judge who, by a second and equally obscure process, has now chosen a group that includes a serving editor employed by Rupert Murdoch who has displayed an extraordinary bias against the public in his papers’ coverage of press affairs.

“Alongside him, remarkably, is a former member of the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC). And instead of having a substantial majority of members who are demonstrably independent of the press, it has the smallest possible majority. This is exactly the kind of shifty operating that made the PCC such a disgrace.”

In a press release, former civil servant and chairman of the appointment panel Hayden Phillips said: “My objective is that the IPSO board will have been created and be ready to act by 1 May 2014.

“I hope that a wide range of candidates of quality and experience will come forward to serve on such an important new national institution”.

The members of the panel are understood to be:
Sir Hayden Phillips (Chair)
John Witherow (Times editor, member Editors’ Code of Practice Committee)
Paul Horrocks (ex-MEN editor, former PCC member)
Lord Simon Brown
Dame Denise Platt

Update 5pm: This evening, Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors issued a statement in defence of the appointed editors.

He said: “Paul Horrocks is a highly respected former editor of the Manchester Evening News and President of the Society of Editors. His time at the PCC – which was not discredited in the Leveson report – ended several years ago.

“John Witherow is a highly experienced senior editor. They will be in a minority on the IPSO appointments panel and a minority, big or small, is still a minority.  They will be a long way removed from dealing with complaints because no working editors will have a role on either the board or the complaints committee.”

“What some people fail to understand is that self-regulation requires some involvement by the industry in order to give the new organisation credibility.”