About the Recognition Panel
The Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press reported on the 29 November 2012 (link to the report). The Government committed to implementing the Inquiry’s recommendations including one of Leveson’s key recommendations: that the press industry should regulate itself but that there should be some independent verification (or ‘recognition’) of the regulatory arrangements the press put in place. On 30 October 2013 a Royal Charter was granted which establishes the Recognition Panel – a fully independent body – to provide that independent verification (link to the Royal Charter).
Message from the Chair Designate
Dear potential candidate,
I have been appointed as Chair of the Board of the Recognition Panel.
As specified in the Royal Charter, I now join the Appointments Committee which appointed me in order to help it appoint the rest of the Board. I am delighted that you might be interested in joining me on the Board of the Recognition Panel.
We may not have a snappy title. But ours will be an exciting and important role, acting independently in the public interest and no doubt under close public and media scrutiny, as part of the framework put in place following the Leveson Inquiry.
Our job will include deciding whether those self-regulators set up by the press which seek recognition meet the requirements set out in the Royal Charter. That will help to secure the public interest in a free and vibrant press which acts in accordance with the lessons learned through the Leveson Inquiry as encapsulated in the Royal Charter. It will also allow relevant publishers to obtain the wider legal benefits of self-regulation by an approved regulator.
We are being appointed by a process which is unique in its independence from Government, Parliament and other influences. Once appointed, we will have a freedom from outside pressure not seen before in a public body. We will be able to act, and must be seen to act, with the utmost independence, including from Government, Parliament, the media and other potentially partisan interests. So, taken together, the past actions and past and present affiliations of the Board members must not lead to any reasonable perception that the Board overall will not act entirely independently of any such interests.
As a team we will create and oversee an entirely new and freestanding organisation able to discharge the functions given to us by the Royal Charter. I look forward to hearing your ideas on how we do that. I want our organisation to be one which, among other things, adopts the highest standards of good governance, which acts transparently and fairly, which consults widely, which takes its equality obligations seriously, and which is enjoyable to work for.
The Board will need to include people with the core skills as set out in the Royal Charter. I hope the Appointments Committee can achieve that by appointing people with a wide range of interests, backgrounds and experiences. I want a Board which reflects the diversity of the whole community, including from groups or backgrounds which tend to be under-represented on bodies like this.
I have set up a website, www.pressrecognitionpanel.org.uk, as a public place for documents and information relating to the Board and the Recognition Panel.
I hope you will consider applying to join me on the Board. If you have questions at this stage, please contact Katrina Paget or Mark Turner of Gatenby Sanderson (who are assisting the Appointments Committee) on 020 7426 3994.
Dr David Wolfe QC
The Recognition Panel has been established by Royal Charter. It has four principal functions enshrined in the Charter:-
- Determining applications for recognition from [press industry] Regulators;
- Reviewing whether a Regulator which has been granted recognition shall continue to be recognised;
- Withdrawing recognition from a Regulator where the Recognition Panel is satisfied that the Regulator ceases to be entitled to recognition; and
- Reporting on any success or failure of the recognition system.
The Board of the Recognition Panel is responsible for the conduct, management, business and operation of the independent Recognition Panel – ensuring it complies with the requirements set out in the Royal Charter.
This is an entirely new organisation. Once in place the Board will need to decide how it will fulfil the functions it has been given by the Charter and where best to locate its operations.
The Recognition Panel’s budget will be provided, for the first three years of operation, by the Exchequer. Following this initial period the Recognition Panel will need to cover its cost from the fees it charges for recognition.
The key responsibilities of the Board will be:-
- Deciding whether to employ staff or otherwise engage people whose services are deemed expedient in order to carry out or promote the purpose of the Recognition Panel, and, in particular, to organise, assist with the work of, and advise the Board.
- Deciding the Recognition Panel’s accommodation and resources needs, internal governance, and communications strategies;
- Developing a strategic plan for delivering the Recognition Panel’s functions;
- Taking decisions on recognition of press industry self-regulators; and
- Building relationships with stakeholders, particularly including the press industry and pressure groups advocating the rights of individuals.
We are seeking to appoint at least four (and no more than eight) individuals with confidence, independence, resilience and experience, born of a significant track record in their chosen field of operation. They will need to be effective communicators, strong team players and have an outstanding reputation for fairness and propriety.