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Paul Michael Dacre (born 14 November 1948) is a Britishmarker journalist and current editor of the British newspaper the Daily Mail. He is also editor-in-chief of the Mail group titles, which also includes the The Mail on Sunday. He is also a director of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc and was a member of the Press Complaints Commission from 1999 to 2008. He left in order to become chairman of the PCC's Editors’ Code of Practice Committee from April 2008.

For the academic and journalist John Lloyd, Dacre is presently the only "British newspaper editor who stamps himself on his newspaper every morning" reflecting "his unique blend of libertarian-authoritarian Conservatism".

His brother Nigel Dacre was editor of ITV's news programmes from 1995 to 2002.

Early life

Dacre's father, Peter Dacre, was a prominent journalist on the Sunday Express whose work included show business features. Paul Dacre was educated at University College School, a private fee-paying school in Hampsteadmarker, on a state scholarship, and grew up in the London suburb of Arnos Grovemarker in Enfieldmarker. In his school holidays, Dacre worked as a messenger at the Sunday Express, and during his pre-university gap year as a trainee in the Daily Express. From 1967 he read English at the University of Leedsmarker and during this period met his future wife, Kathleen, now a drama teacher.

Whilst at university, he became involved with the Leeds Student newspaper, rising to the position of editor. At this time he identified with the liberal end of the political spectrum on issues including gay rights and drug use, and wrote editorials in support of a student sit-in at Leeds organised by Jack Straw. "'If you don’t have a left-wing period when you go to university, you should be shot'", he says. On graduation in 1971 he joined the Daily Express in Manchester for a six month trial; subsequent to this he was given a full time job on the Express. He once commented that "there was never any desire to do anything other than journalism".

Initial career

At the Express, Dacre worked as correspondent in a variety of locations before being sent to Washington in 1976 to cover that year's American presidential election and later moved to New York. It was at this time that his politics shifted to the right:

After spending several years at the Express bureau, Dacre was head-hunted by David English to be Bureau chief for the Mail in 1980, but was brought back to the UK in 1982 after fifteen months to be deputy news editor. The following period saw Dacre work in most of the newspaper's departments as assistant editor.

He became editor of the Evening Standard in March 1991 and replaced Sir David English the following year as editor of the Daily Mail, after turning down an offer from Rupert Murdoch to edit The Times. Dacre believed "that he would not accept my desire to edit with freedom". It was his approach to the job of editor - "hard-working, disciplined, confrontational" - which had led Murdoch to attempt to hire him. For the Mail Dacre was considered important enough for English to become editor-in-chief, a job title often seen as a means of sidelining someone considered unsackable. After David English's death in March 1998, Dacre himself became the Mail Group's editor-in-chief the following July, in addition to remaining as editor of the Daily Mail.

Editor of the Daily Mail

The Stephen Lawrence case

Dacre's most prominent newspaper campaign was in 1997, against the suspects who were acquitted of the murder in 1993 of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. According to Nick Davies in Flat Earth News the paper originally intended an attack on the groups arguing for an inquiry into the Lawrence murder, but Hal Austin, the paper's "only black reporter" on interviewing Neville and Doreen Lawrence, realised that Neville had worked years earlier on Dacre's Islington house as a plasterer, and the news desk instructed Austin to "Do something sympathetic" about the case. Dacre eventually used the headline "MURDERERS" accusing the suspects of the crime. He repeated this headline in 2006.

On the final day of the inquest held at the coroner’s court, Dacre and other Mail executives had lunch with Sir Paul Condon, then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, "who very eloquently told me they were as guilty as sin" Four of the five suspects had never provided any alibi for their whereabouts on the night of Stephen Lawrence's murder and they invoked the privilege against self incrimination to avoid giving evidence and exposing themselves to cross examination. The police believed that the alibi of the fifth suspect was unconvincing. The newspaper on 14 February 1997, under its headline asserted: "The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us". No claim was issued and the newspaper received significant acclaim and opprobrium as a result.

On other occasions, the Mail under Dacre has been criticised for its racist attitude towards the stories it chooses to cover. Nick Davies recounts an anecdote from a former senior news reporter who en route to a murder scene 300 miles away of a woman and her two children was told to return because: "They're black." Davies comments: "Perhaps I have been unlucky, but I have never come across a reporter from the Daily Mail who did not have some similar story, of black people being excluded from the paper because of their colour."

Politics

Seen as "highly influential politically" by the conservative journalist Simon Heffer, Dacre said, in a talk given to students in January 2007, that the Conservative Party cannot be guaranteed the Mail's support at the next election, due in 2009-10, and he also queried whether the party was still conservative.

Indeed, the Mail under Dacre briefly had positive views of New Labour until the Ecclestone scandal and clashes with the government's Director of Communications Alastair Campbell cooled the relationship thanks to the practice of spin doctoring. Dacre said in 2004:
 As recounted by John Lloyd in 2004 though, Tim Allan, Campbell's assistant in Labour's first term, saw "'the government [spend] years trying to be chummy with the Daily Mail... Blair sees himself as the great persuader, able to convince anyone. But they didn't want to like him. The government raised far too much time trying to turn the Mail around'"


The newspaper also turned against Cherie Blair, the former Prime Minister's wife, when the Blair's lawyers prevented the publication of a former nanny's memoirs; official regulations prevent press revelations regarding the children of public figures. The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday also came into direct conflict with No10 late in 2002 for their pursuit of Cherie Blair's connection to the conman Peter Foster. "motivated by personal animosity" to the Blair's. Tony Blair targeted the Mail titles directly denouncing "parts of the media that will take what there is that is true and then turn it round into something that is a total distortion of the real truth". Dacre asserted in response: "The Mail has no agenda apart from good journalism" in the Daily Telegraph.

The current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, though, is reportedly a personal friend of Dacre. In 2002, when Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dacre commented: "I have an awful lot of admiration for Gordon Brown. I feel he is one of the very few politicians of this administration who's touched by the mantle of greatness". Brown returned the favour to Dacre at an event at the Savoy Hotelmarker which celebrated the tenth anniversary of his editorship of the Mail in 2003. In a video presentation, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said that Dacre "has devised, developed and delivered one of the great newspaper success stories of any generation" and was "someone of great journalistic skill , an editor of great distinction and someone of very great personal warmth". The Home Secretary David Blunkett was present at the event in person and also praised Dacre.

Editorial outlook

For his admirers, Dacre has maintained his newspaper's defence of family values and the 'small-c' conservative interests of the suburban middle-classes in the south of England. Dacre once suggested to a new recruit, the sports columnist Des Kelly, that he should "Make them laugh, make them cry, or make them angry". From the business point of view, Dacre's time as editor has been highly successful: "no editor can point to rises in sales that come anywhere near Dacre's in the [first] 10 years that he has been in the job". If the current trajectory of the Mail's rise in circulation is maintained, currently it sells about 2.4 million each day, it will pass that of The Sun at some point before 2010.

Dacre's stated objective is:

He has pursued a strategy of appointing star columnists established at other newspapers at significantly raised salaries. This practice led to a legal entanglement with The Sun when the terms of Richard Littlejohn's contract came in to conflict with his obligations to his former newspaper in 2005. Dacre's appearance in the High Court was only averted by a few days.

Criticism

Dacre's editorship of the Daily Mail is frequently criticised. According to Cristina Odone in The Observer, Dacre has a reputation towards underlings of "verbal abuse [and] a drill sergeant's delight in public humiliation" which also includes swearing at them. According to Nick Davies in his book Flat Earth News his staff call his morning editorial meetings the "Vagina Monologues" because of his habit of calling everybody a "cunt".

For journalist Polly Toynbee the newspaper is a "daily blast of fear and loathing" and Dacre himself is "the most arrogant bully of us all". Toynbee has also criticised the Mail under Dacre for its attitude to women. In 2007 Toynbee claimed it shared the opinions of Iran's President Ahmadinejad when it responded to his country's release of the hostage Faye Turney in April 2007. According to Simon O'Hagan in The Independent: "As far as Dacre is concerned, women have no right to go out and earn money of their own, let alone rise to positions of power, when they also have a family".)

While London Mayor Ken Livingstone, long in conflict with the London Evening Standard, then wholly owned by the same media group as the Mail, branded the Mail titles "the most reprehensibly edited" publications in the world in 2005. The Mail's treatment of asylum seekers and members of other vulnerable groups is a particular bugbear of many critics, not only Livingstone. "Maybe we anti-racists have been naive to think that [the Stephen Lawrence campaign] was anything more than an aberration" suggests Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, adding "wouldn't it be better if this extraordinary editor decided to use his influence to create just a little more understanding of why refugees leave their countries, and what most of them bring to our nation?"

Martin Kettle, a columnist on The Guardian, has questioned whether Dacre's assertion that the Mail represents Conservative voters can be sustained. Kettle points out that in the 2005 general election 22% of Mail readers voted Labour, 14% for the Liberal Democrats and 7% for other non-Conservative candidates. "In this respect, therefore, the editor who claims to have a hotline to the national mood turns out to have something of a crossed line instead", Kettle writes.

Dacre is acknowledged to be a shy man who feels uncomfortable in the limelight and would prefer to potter in his garden than maintain a high profile as one of London's media glitterati, and he takes a dim view of the "celebrity editor" such as the former editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan. He commands a great deal of respect among some of his peers, and his admiration for and friendship with the Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, sits uncomfortably with the left’s one-dimensional caricature of him as some kind of right-wing, racist, bigoted ogre.

Praise

For Kelvin MacKenzie, the former Editor of The Sun, he is "comfortably Britain’s finest editor" who arrives at work "determined to crush the life out of his rivals". Publicist Max Clifford has commented that "Paul Dacre is virtually a law [un]to himself".

A MORI poll in 2005 asked 30 editors from the national and regional press and from the broadcasting industry for the name of the editor they most admired. Dacre won the poll.

Public appearances

Paul Dacre has the reputation for avoiding publicity and rarely gives interviews. He is acknowledged to be a shy man who feels uncomfortable in the limelight and would prefer to potter in his garden than maintain a high profile in London's media circles, and he takes a dim view of 'celebrity editors' such as the former editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan Responding to comments on his more limited public visibility, he claims that:

Dacre gave the Cudlipp Lecture at the London College of Communication on 22 January 2007. For him, Britain is dominated by a "subsidariat", those newspapers whose "journalism and values - invariably liberal, metropolitan and politically correct, and I include the pinkish Times here - don't connect with sufficient readers to be commercially viable" and make a profit. Dacre also attacked the BBC as a "monolith" pursuing "Cultural Marxism" which has a singular world view and is contemptuous of "ordinary people". In The Guardian Peter Wilby claimed that Dacre's speech made "many listeners feel they were stuck in the back of a taxi with a particularly boring and opinionated driver".

On November 9, 2008, Dacre gave a speech in which he was critical of the emerging pressures for privacy laws following the conclusion of the Max Mosley libel case against the News of the World and Mr Justice Eady's closing remarks.

Speculation over Dacre's future

At the end of 2007, the press were unclear as to Paul Dacre's future at the Daily Mail. Dacre is known to have a heart condition. He was off work for three months in mid-2007, and for three weeks at the end of October and the beginning of November with "gastric flu". His deputy Alistair Sinclair assumed the role of editor during both periods. Stephen Glover, a Mail columnist, urged the parent company DMGT in The Independent on 17 November to make a statement ending the uncertainty, which it did four days later, reaffirming Dacre's position, when announcing its profit results for the year ending 30 September 2007.

Salary

For the year to 28 September 2008, he received £1.62m in salary and cash payments, an increase from the £1.49m of the previous year.

Other activities

Paul Dacre chaired an independent inquiry on the release of government information which reported at the end of January 2009. In particular it recommended the halving of the Thirty year rule in the remaining areas where it still applies. In addition it called for "as a matter of urgency" a review of the government's methods of preserving information held digitally for their long-term survival. It also called for an independent review of the "Radcliffe" rules, which apply to the information released in the memoirs of former ministers, in the light of the changes it recommended.

References

  1. "Paul Dacre appointed Editor-in-Chief", Daily Mail and General Trust, 16 July 1998. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  2. Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence,House of Commons, 25 March 2003, Appendix XIX. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  3. Sarah Lagan "Paul Dacre to chair Editors' Code of Practice committee", Press Gazette, 4 March 2008. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  4. "John Lloyd responds to Dacre's attack", Press Gazette, 9 February 2007. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  5. "Dacre's reign at ITV news [ends]", BBC News, 5 September 2002. Retrieved on 11 July 2007.
  6. "Peter Dacre: Obituary", The Times, 19 March 2003. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  7. Bill Hagerty "Paul Dacre: the zeal thing", British Journalism Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2002, pp. 11-22. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  8. Biographical detail taken from Roy Greenslade Press Gang, 2003[2004], Pan, pp. 593-5.
  9. Simon O'Hagan "The IoS Profile: Hate Mail - Paul Dacre", Independent on Sunday, 15 December 2002 as reproduced on the Find Articles website [webpage 1]. Retrieved on 27 May 2007.
  10. "Desert Island Discs" promotion, 25 January 2004. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  11. Andy Beckett "Paul Dacre: the most dangerous man in Britain?", The Guardian, 22 February 2001. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  12. Michael Coveney "A new Dacre take on morality", The Guardian, 15 August 2004. Retrieved on 27 May 2007.
  13. Paul Dacre "Society of Editors: Paul Dacre's speech in full", Press Gazette, 9 November 2009
  14. However, Greenslade asserts (p. 594) that Dacre spent three years at the Mail's American bureau and returned in 1983.
  15. Leeds Student interview cited in "Dacre speaks out on Murdoch and Desmond", Press Gazette, 27 October 2006. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  16. Nick Davies Flat Earth News, 2008, Chatto and Windus, p373.
  17. quoted in Brian Carhcart The Case of Stephen Lawrence, 1999[2000], Penguin, p. 285.
  18. Davies p371.
  19. Simon Heffer "Cameron mocks the 'loonies and fruitcakes' of UKIP at his peril", Daily Telegraph, 24 January 2007. Retrieved on 26 May 2007.
  20. John Lloyd What the Media are doing to Our Politics, 2004, Constable, p94.
  21. Anthony Sampson Who Runs This Place: The Anatomy of Britain in the 21st Century, 2004[2005], John Murray, p. 237.
  22. Matt Born and Tom Leonard "Mail men deny any 'personal' agenda", Daily Telegraph, 12 December 2002. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  23. "Dacre receives the highest praises", Press Gazette, 14 March 2003. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  24. "My Life in [the] Media: Des Kelly", The Independent as reproduced on the Find Articles website, 12 December 2005. Retrieved on 27 May 2007.
  25. Jane Thynne "Is Paul Dacre the new Roman Abramovich?", Independent on Sunday, 30 April 2006, as reproduced on the Find Articles website. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  26. "Sun meets Mail half way in battle for Littlejohn", Press Gazette, 25 October 2005. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  27. Cristina Odone "The Daily Mail, the king and his courtiers", The Observer, 17 October 2005. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  28. Nick Davies Flat Earth News, page 379, 2008, Chatto & Windus.
  29. Polly Toynbee "Dacre in the dock", The Guardian, 26 March 2004. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  30. Polly Toynbee "The liberation of the sexes from their pink and blue fates has hardly begun", The Guardian, 6 April 2007. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  31. Chris Tryhorn "Livingstone: Daily Mail is reprehensible", The Guardian, 15 February 2005. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  32. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown "Media: The colour of prejudice", The Independent, 9 February 1999, as reproduced on the Find Articles website. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  33. "Martin Kettle on Dacre's Cudlipp lecture", Press Gazette, 9 February 2007. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  34. Dacre has made this claim in contexts other than his Cudlipp lecture. See the Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence, Paul Dacre's response to Q91, 25 March 2004. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  35. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/09/paul-dacre-daily-mail
  36. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmpubadm/274/4032505.htm
  37. http://www.bjr.org.uk/data/2005/no1_mackenzie
  38. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/14/3
  39. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/11/pauldacre-dailymail
  40. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paul_Dacre&action=submit#cite_note-British_Journalism_Review-6
  41. Kelvin MacKenzie "Why Dacre’s worth his million", British Journalism Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005, pp. 70-74. Retrieved on 27 May 2007.
  42. Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 25 February 2003, Max Clifford's response to Q90. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  43. Ian Burrell "Dacre's attack: The accused answer back", The Independent, 29 January 2007. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  44. James Robinson "Shy, but the Mail's powerful editor is far from retiring", The Observer, 9 October 2008.
  45. Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence Paul Dacre's response to Q146, 25 March 2004.
  46. Paul Dacre "Cudlipp lecture: 22 January 2007", Complete text (.pdf file). Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  47. Paul Dacre "The BBC's cultural Marxism will trigger an American-style backlash", as reproduced on 'Comment is Free', The Guardian website, 24 February 2007. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  48. Peter Cole "Why is Paul Dacre so bloody angry?", Independent on Sunday, 28 January 2007, as reproduced on the Find Articles website. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  49. Owen Gibson "Daily Mail editor accuses BBC of indulging in cultural Marxism", The Guardian, 23 January 2007. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  50. Peter Wilby "Dacre - all scowl and no substance", The Guardian 29 January 2007. Retrieved on 9 July 2007.
  51. Paul Dacre "The threat to our press", The Guardian, 10 November 2008.
  52. "The Spectator", The Independent, 2 September 2007. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  53. Stephen Glover "Why the 'Mail' needs to come forward and end these rumours", The Independent, 19 November 2007. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  54. Stephen Brook "Dacre has 'no intention of stepping down', says DMGT", The Guardian, 21 November 2008. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  55. Richard Wray "Daily Mail editor Dacre paid £1.6m", The Guardian, 20 August 2009
  56. Deborah Summers "30-year rule on government disclosure should be halved, Dacre inquiry says", The Guardian, 29 January 2009.



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