IPSO – The Independent Press Standards Organisation

Reviewed February 2021

IPSO is the regulator which adjudicates on the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Most national and regional newspapers groups as well as the UK magazine industry have signed up to IPSO.

It has a complaints panel to adjudicate on possible breaches of the Code.

The code committee oversees and updates the Code of Practice when necessary.

It now operates a whistleblowers’ hotline for journalists to contact.

IPSO sometimes proactive issues warnings to the press where it has received complaints of harassment.

The Code of Practice was revised and updated in January 2016.

Recent adjudications can be found here.

IPSO Powers

IPSO has the power to order publications in breach to publish an adjudication notice in a position specified by IPSO.

Since IPSO came into being it has ordered front page notices of its adjudications to be published several times for serious breaches of the code.

IPSO will also specify where a publication should publish an adjudication on its website, and how long the adjudication should remain there.

IPSO also has the power to order an investigation into a publication where it is believed there has been a serious, systemic failure to uphold standards.

If such an investigation fins such failures to uphold standards, the IPSO does have the power to levy a fine of up to £1m.

At the time of writing – October 2016 – no such penalty had been imposed.


If you take a look at the adjudications on the IPSO site you will see that the majority of complaints it deals with are on accuracy.

This is a similar record to the of the Press Complaints Commission, the predecessor to IPSO. By far the greatest cause of complaint is accuracy and journalists can sometimes avoid such complaint by scrupulous checking of information with as many independent sources as possible.

Other regulators

Another press regulator called IMPRESS has been established. It has a smaller number of member publications compared to IPSO.

Royal Charter recognition did open open up the possibility of changes to the law which would have given costs protection to members of IMPRESS. This means that someone who sues them for libel, harassment, breach of privacy or malicious falsehood, without first trying to deal with the matter through IMPRESS, would have to pay all of the costs of the case, win or lose. On the other hand, publishers outside the Charter regulator would have to pay such costs, win or lose.

Following a public consultation the Government decided not to go forward with enforcing the so-called ‘costs-shifting’ provisions and so the costs risk to publisher remains the same regardless of which regulator they are a member of.


Written by David Banks, Media Law Consultant and Trainer. David runs the Law, Ethics and Copyright workshops for NUJ Training Wales.

Written By...

David Banks

David Banks is a journalist with 24 years’ experience and delivers NUJ Training Wales’ course on Media Law and Ethics. He is a media consultant delivering training to a range of national and regional media, NGOs, government, charities, PR companies, universities and the police. He is a trainer who has created and managed successful courses in journalism, media law and production journalism. He was co-author of 18th, 19th and 20th editions of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists. He writes regularly on law and the media for The Guardian, The Mirror and The Independent. He is a frequent contributor BBC TV and radio news programmes.


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