I have just been sent the following by the Chair of the Australian Press Council, Julian Disney. It is the detail of his agreement with News Limited CEO John Hartigan about the audit of editorial expenses to be conducted in Australia.

It allows for independent oversight, but on first glance seems to me to be the kind of inquiry that might alert management to any problems, rather than the kind that would lead to a confident public clean bill of health.

Here is Disney’s email.

Margaret,

As requested, I am sending you below the terms of the agreement with News Limited in relation to appointment of an assessor. They were agreed last Thursday. The agreement is in the public domain and has been sent to some other journalists on request.

Julian

“1. News Limited has invited the Chair of the Australian Press Council to nominate an independent assessor for the review which the company is conducting into third party payments.

2. The role of the independent assessor will be to examine and comment on
– the proposed methods and scope of the News Limited review, including any changes during the course of the review;
– the appropriateness of action by the company in response to the review.

3. The independent assessor will be available to brief the Chair of the Press Council and will report publicly at the conclusion of the review.

4. The independent assessor is being appointed to help provide public assurance that News Limited has initiated and acted upon the review in an appropriate manner. Of course, the assessor is not responsible for the conduct of the review itself.

The name of the independent assessor, and the proposed timeline for completion of the review, will be announced as soon as possible.”

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