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IMPRESS Tribute to Patron Sir Harry Evans, Who Died Aged 92

Published on: 24 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 27 Sep, 2020

Harold Evans. Photo: Wikimedia

Sir Harold Evans, champion of public-interest investigative journalism and supporter of more effective press regulation, has died in New York aged 92.

A fierce critic of political interference in journalism, Sir Harry began his career in local journalism and made his name as Editor of The Sunday Times and The Times from 1967 to 1981.

During this time, he uncovered stories such as the thalidomide scandal and helped secure compensation from drugs companies for the thousands of families affected.

Sir Harry was a great supporter of IMPRESS, the press regulator of The Guildford Dragon NEWS. He opened IMPRESS’s Blackfriars office in 2017, where the main conference room is named after him.

At the time, in Press Gazette, he described the Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press, under which IMPRESS is the only officially approved regulator, as a “tremendous impetus and safeguard for investigative journalism, as well as being the protection for those people who suffer the consequences of something purporting to be investigative journalism which was really persecution of personal grief.”

IMPRESS founder Jonathan Heawood said: “Sir Harry was a mentor and an inspiration to me, and a crucial supporter at the time of founding IMPRESS.

“His fierce moral convictions were blended with a warm humanity, and a relentless curiosity that made him interested in everything and everyone. I will miss him very much.”

Ed Proctor, IMPRESS chief executive officer, said: “Sir Harold Evans was a remarkable man who understood the role regulation plays in protecting the freedom and integrity of investigative journalism. He’ll be missed but his legacy lives on.”

Mr Proctor also welcomed the announcement yesterday by the Charity Commission that the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) has been awarded charitable status. The ruling that journalism can be charitable is a significant step forward in helping to sustain high-quality journalism for the public benefit.

He said: “IMPRESS looks forward to working with the PINF in our shared endeavour to promote high standards of ethical conduct and best practice in journalism.”

The PINF grew out of an independent publisher taskforce convened by IMPRESS last year which sought to identify ways to better support high-quality, public-interest journalism after the Cairncross Review warned of a marked failure of public-interest news.

Although IMPRESS has provided initial support to get PINF off the ground, the two organisations are constitutionally separate. As PINF focuses on building capacity of public-interest news producers through grants and mentoring, IMPRESS continues to work towards raising standards and providing support for high-quality reporting through an approved, publicly accountable regulatory scheme.

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