Regulatory Lay Members

Regulatory lay members are non-Board members, independently appointed by the Appointment Panel to sit on Regulatory Committees alongside Board members and advise on regulatory outcomes.

Regulatory Committees meet to adjudicate on complaints that are made to IMPRESS or are initiated by IMPRESS, about the published content, news gathering activities or internal governance standards of regulated publications. All members are highly experienced in journalism or media law, have experience of fair and impartial decision making and are independent of the press and government.

IMPRESS Regulatory Lay Members

Iain Christie is a mediator, facilitator and coach with a background as a barrister in human rights and media law. He began his career as a legal adviser at the Foreign Office representing the UK in international treaty negotiations and in cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Between 2000 and 2017 he was a member of 5RB, the media and information law chambers, where he co-founded the leading textbook Tugendhat and Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media.  He is now an Associate member of 4 -5 Gray’s Inn Square, Chair of the Bar Standards Board Independent Decision-making Body and a Policy Fellow to the Lord Chancellor.

Professor Claire de Than is an award-winning senior legal academic of more than 25 years’ standing, and a Jersey Law Commissioner, currently working on a Criminal Code and on laws relating to open justice. She has over 85 legal publications in total, including 15 books, chapters in leading legal monographs and edited collections, and articles in a variety of leading national and international journals, including the Modern Law Review and the Criminal Law Review. Her publications and reform proposals have been adopted by governments, regulators and professions. Her research fields include media law, criminal law, comparative law of tiny jurisdictions, human rights law and disability law, all of which she also teaches. She has been an expert for the Law Commission of England and Wales on two recent projects, and made many media appearances. She has advised several governments and many organisations on human rights and law reform issues. 

Chris Elliott has been a journalist for more than 40 years on UK regional and national newspapers. He left the Guardian four years ago, where his last role was as the readers' editor, an internal ombudsman dealing with complaints and the ethics of journalism. He is now a freelance editorial consultant. Chris is a former Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, and has trained and lectured widely in Africa, Turkey and Europe on the principles of ethical journalism and good governance. He has also been a member of the United Kingdom’s national journalism training body, the NCTJ and was also a trustee of the International News Safety Institute (INSI), a director of the Society of Editors, a member of the Nomination Committee of the Reuters Founders Share Company, and a former chair of Concern Worldwide UK, an international aid charity. His areas of special interest include media law, diversity and training, especially for working journalists interested in self-regulation and good governance in journalism, in hostile environments.

Ato Erzan-Essien is a senior lecturer in Journalism at the University of Chester where he teaches law, ethics and research methods and specialises in researching notions of journalistic professionalism. A former editor of The Big Issue in the North magazine, he also worked as a news reporter for the Lancashire Evening Post and held various sub-editor roles at AnanovaThe Bury Times and The Bolton Evening News. He lives in Bolton, Lancashire with Leigh his wife of 27 years and their three teenage daughters. In his spare time he is a keen gardener, runner and qualified athletics coach. 

Conor Heaney is a solicitor in private practice in Northern Ireland since 1997. In that time, he has acted on behalf of claimants in defamation actions and civil proceedings generally both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Conor has a particular interest in professional regulation and discipline. He holds appointments as a legal adviser to a number of healthcare regulatory bodies in Northern Ireland and England. He is the deputy Chair of the Statutory Committee of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. Conor also acts on behalf of professional clients, including doctors, accountants and solicitors, who are the subject of investigation by their respective regulatory bodies. 

Paul Herbert is a practising solicitor of 35 years' experience, most of which has been in the area of media law. He is well versed in all aspects of the law governing the publication of content, both editorial and advertising. During Paul's long career he has acted for broadcasters, regulatory bodies, producers, authors, publishers, advertisers, journalists, performers and content platforms. Paul has been involved in several leading media law cases and regulatory investigations. He has lectured extensively in media law subjects to journalists and programme makers and is regular conference speaker on media law subjects.

Rachel Matthews is an academic with a research focus on the form, content and provision of local news and community media.  She has written on the history of the local newspaper as a distinct media form and applies the understanding this brings to contemporary news practice. Rachel's expertise draws on her extensive professional background as a qualified news journalist working across regional and local newspapers.  In addition to a National Certificate in Newspaper Journalism, gained in 1991,  she holds a BA from the University of East Anglia and doctorate from the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University. Rachel is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and chair of the Local and Community Media Network of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association. She is  currently Associate Head of School for Research in the School and Performing Arts at Coventry University. 

Liz Munro is a journalist with over 30 years’ experience in broadcast and print media, and now runs her own consultancy which advises broadcasters and video on demand providers on regulation, ethics and journalism. Her previous roles include Head of Editorial Compliance across BBC English Regions’ 12 television and 39 radio stations. She spent 10 years as an on-screen BBC TV news reporter followed by roles as a TV, radio news programme and documentaries producer and an editorial policy adviser to all programme genres. She specialised in covering criminal trials both at home and abroad including cases in France using her fluent French. As head of editorial compliance she oversaw investigative programmes and advised on the use of undercover filming. After graduating in French and Russian at Keele University she was a graduate editorial trainee at Morgan Grampian and worked as a  national news reporter for Pulse, a magazine for general medical practitioners. Among related interests, Liz is also a regular judge in the Royal Television Society television news awards.