Friday, 29 January 2010

More problems for the Mail newspapers

Last July, the Mail on Sunday issued an apology to Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala, four months after an article that:

alleged that there were strong grounds to suspect him of unlawfully stabbing a man at his home in December 2008, and that he was an extremist who supported Abu Qatada and al Qaida.

It was another mark against the PCC that it took the paper four months to apologise for such serious, and seriously inaccurate, allegations.

And, today, the paper has agreed to pay substantial libel damages to Bunglawala for the error with the High Court hearing that the:

newspaper now accepted that the allegations were false.

Two points. One is that it this another case where a paper has made a serious mistake and the victim has decided to take legal action - once again calling into question the ability of the PCC to deal with such incidents.

Second, it's the Mail newspapers again. How can Editor-in-Chief Paul Dacre continue to be Chair of the Editor's Code of Practice Committee when the Mail newspapers are such serial offenders?

In other news, no fewer than two 'corporate governance watchdogs' have criticised the Daily Mail and General Trust:

over bonuses, Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre's pay deal and its shareholder structure.

The Guardian reported:

The shareholder consultants Pirc and Manifest have both flagged up what they regard as a number of problems with the company's annual report ahead of its annual general meeting on 10 February.

And, specifically on Dacre:

The shareholder consultancy [Pirc] also said Dacre's two-year rolling contract was contrary to best practice.

Sarah Wilson, the chief executive of Manifest, contrasted Dacre's £1.13m salary with the Daily Mail's anger about 'fat cat' pay.

'I suppose it demonstrates a proper separation between editorial and proprietors, but I think in the current environment, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones,' she said.

Dacre being employed as an Editor at all would seem contrary to best practice, but DMGT were having none of it:

'Mr Dacre is clearly an exceptional individual in his field.'

'Exceptional'? Only in the way he manages to keep his job - and receive £1.6m a year for it - despite running the most complained about newspaper in Britain.

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