Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland professor sits on board of press regulator funded by mogul facing racism claims

By Claire O'Boyle

An Ulster University professor sits on the board of under-pressure press regulator Impress, which has come under fire following claims about ex-Formula One mogul Max Mosley - whose family money bankrolls the body.

Media studies professor Maire Messenger-Davies and her fellow board members are facing pressure following allegations that Mosley was behind "racist leaflets" distributed during an election campaign, which referred to "coloured immigrants" who "spread terrible diseases like leprosy".

The pamphlet, supporting a candidate for his father Sir Oswald Mosley's Union Movement in a 1961 by-election, was unearthed by the Daily Mail in historical archives in Manchester.

It is understood to have said that immigrants should be "sent home".

Mr Mosley issued a statement saying he did not recognise the document, but agreed it was "offensive and divisive" and "not something I would have ever wished to be associated with".

The campaign pamphlet came to light as Mr Mosley pursues an effort to prevent newspapers from referring to the sex party reported in the News of the World which prompted a court case in 2008.

The Mail said its discovery raises questions over evidence which Mr Mosley gave under oath in a High Court trial when he successfully sued the News Of The World in 2008.

Mr Mosley has campaigned for tighter press regulation since the now-defunct Sunday tabloid wrongly reported the party was "Nazi-themed".

In light of the allegations, the Labour Party has now refused to accept further funding from the Mosley family.

Impress has now come under pressure to follow suit. Ms Messenger-Davies declined to comment. However, a spokesperson for the regulator said: "Impress is entirely independent of the publishers we regulate and the donors who support our work.

"Our code holds our publishers to high standards. Unlike Ipso, we prohibit racism and all forms of hate speech against vulnerable groups."

In 2015, Impress entered a long-term agreement with the Independent Press Regulation Trust for £3.8m of funding to be guaranteed by the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust. Alexander Mosley is the son of Max Mosley.

According to the regulator's website "other funders may contribute to the Trust in future. This grant is enough to cover our core costs for this period whilst we develop our income from regulatory fees."

Membership of Impress, which was granted state recognition in 2016, is made up of 77 publications from across the UK.

Most members stem from small publications and websites, with the majority of national and local newspapers signing up instead to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), because of long-held objections to state involvement in press regulation.

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