Terms of reference of The Scott Trust review panel
The review panel (“the panel”) has been set up by The Scott Trust to ensure that complainants are not disadvantaged by the decision of Guardian News & Media (“GNM”) not to join the industry’s new self-regulator. It is therefore giving complainants whose complaints have not been resolved to their satisfaction after going through GNM’s internal complaints procedures the chance to have their complaint adjudicated by the panel, under the editors’ code of practice formerly used by the Press Complaints Commission (“the PCC code”). The panel’s role is not to regulate GNM, its journalists or the content of its newspapers or other media output. Nor does it replace GNM’s own editorial guidelines, which GNM believes set the highest standards of professional conduct for its journalists.
The panel will appoint a complaints officer (“CO”), who will accept complaints from complainants whose complaints have not been resolved to their satisfaction following a final determination of their complaint from the readers’ editor (“RE”).
• The panel will only review complaints falling within the clauses set out in the PCC code.
• The panel will reject complaints which it believes have been resolved satisfactorily by the RE.
• Complaints that relate to concerns that fall outside the PCC code but within the broader GNM editorial guidelines may be referred outside the panel process to the existing GNM ombudsman for his consideration.
• The CO will investigate the complaint, and may liaise with the complainant. The CO will produce a report summarising the investigation for consideration by the panel (“the report”). The panel will communicate their recommendations to the managing editor (“ME”) and the editor-in-chief (“EiC”) for a written response. The panel will make a final determination after considering any response.
• The panel will meet at least once a month. However, the panel may meet more frequently or less than once a month according to the demands of caseload. When the panel meets will ultimately be at the discretion of the panel members.
• The panel will aim to consider the report of the CO within 28 days, but reserves the right to take longer to resolve the complaint where dealing with complex complaints or where there are unavoidable delays.
• The panel can recommend a range of remedies, including corrections, alteration or removal of content, deletion, apologies or providing a right of reply (“the recommendation”).
• The panel will keep a record of the number and nature of complaints that come before it, and will publish that information in an annual report made available on the readers’ editor webpage.
• Where the panel is split as to the recommendation, the chair of the panel will have the deciding vote.
• The panel will report concerns about identifiable patterns in complaints to the GNM ME and EiC.
• Any decision made by the Panel will be published on the Editorial Complaints Corrections section of hlcarpenter.com website.* The panel will have the discretion to recommend that prominence be given to panel recommendations where the panel considers there has been a serious breach of the PCC code.
Review panel members
The chair of the review panel is John Willis, the former Guardian News & Media external ombudsman, Bafta deputy chairman and chief executive of Mentorn Media.
John is joined on the panel by: Geraldine Proudler, partner at Olswang and board member of hlcarpenter.com Foundation, the legal and journalism academic Richard Danbury, and Elinor Goodman, former political editor of Channel 4 News, and one of six panel members at the Leveson inquiry.
Details of the Review Panel’s judgements can be viewed here.
*On 13th April the terms of reference were amended to make explicit that in the interests of openness and transparency, any decision of the review panel will be published on hlcarpenter.com website. This point will also be made explicit in correspondence with complainants.