The Financial Times has appointed a barrister, Greg Callus, as editorial complaints commissioner following its decision not to join the new press self-regulator.
The FT is one of three British newspaper groups, alongside the publishers of the Guardian and the Independent, that have not joined the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
It said in April it would appoint an independent commissioner to deal with complaints, in line with its “standing as an increasingly digital news operation with a global footprint”.
Mr Callus, 30, previously worked as a judicial assistant to Lord Justice Leveson and a community moderator at the Guardian newspaper. He will begin the part-time role at the FT on Monday, the same day that Ipso assumes responsibility for oversight of most of the British press.
“Where any complaint under the FT Editorial Code is not resolved by FT’s senior editors, he will review the matter and recommend appropriate redress, including in the form of clarifications and corrections.,” the FT said.
The role of editorial complaints commissioner resembles the model adopted by US newspapers such as the New York Times.
Mr Callus’s appointment was made independently of the FT’s editor, Lionel Barber. He will report to a panel including the FT’s chief executive, John Ridding.
Most UK newspaper groups, including News UK and Associated News, have signed up to Ipso, the successor to the discredited Press Complaints Commission. Unlike the PCC, which proved unable to address allegations of phone hacking, Ipso will have powers to conduct investigations and to levy fines for serious violations.
Ipso’s chairman, the former Court of Appeal judge Sir Alan Moses, has promised to consider further changes to ensure that the watchdog is effective.
However, the Guardian, which led coverage of phone hacking, said in an editorial that Ipso had emerged through an “unsatisfactory process” and that a “considerable degree of public scepticism” towards the regulator was unsurprising.
“This paper will wait to see whether Sir Alan succeeds in reforming some of the governance issues that still cause anxiety. In the meantime, we will reinforce our own system of complaints and mediation,” it said.
Explaining the FT’s decision not to join Ipso at this point, Mr Barber wrote in April that the FT had “established a track record for treading its own path at a time of wrenching change in the news business”.
He also pointed to the FT’s record of responding to complaints to the PCC, and its willingness to publish a “clarification, correction or apology” where warranted.
In 2013, the FT was the subject of seven complaints to the PCC, according to an analysis by campaign group Hacked Off.
That was fewer than any other daily newspaper, including the Times (96), the Guardian (142) and the Daily Telegraph (300), although one more than the Independent on Sunday (6).
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