Saturday, 30 July 2011

'I do not know whether some of the things Littlejohn writes are honest'

Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre gave evidence to a joint parliamentary committee on the Draft Defamation Bill on 18 July.

He defended the PCC which he praised for its:

increased powers and strength...which no one will admit to in this febrile climate.

He attacked the BBC for:

very light-touch regulation. It almost regulates itself.

This despite the fact that Ofcom also regulates the BBC and has fined them for transgressions - a sanction Dacre will never accept for newspapers.

On front page apologies Dacre said:

I suppose we are now leading to the ultimate sanction of a front-page apology. Again, I think that would be the court taking away the editor’s right to edit and the thin end of all kinds of undesirable wedges. It is perhaps a technical point, but a newspaper’s front page needs to sell itself. A newspaper has to be viable. If it does not sell itself, no one will read the correction inside. Finally—this is slightly contradictory—in truly heinous offences, a front page can and should be considered by the editor. There are quite a few precedents for that but I should not want the court to have the right to insist on it.

The committee also mentioned the wording of the defence of 'fair comment' and asked whether 'honest opinion' might be more appropriate. Dacre said:

Yes, I suppose “honest” is slightly better, although I prefer “free opinion” for the life of me. As long as it does not inflame a situation, is not racist and does not defame someone, the freer it is the better. Certainly, thinking about some of the things that Mr Littlejohn writes in my paper, I do not know whether they are honest but they certainly get people talking.


  1. Because who needs honesty when you can have controversy? The man's a dickhead.

  2. "It is perhaps a technical point, but a newspaper’s front page needs to sell itself. A newspaper has to be viable. If it does not sell itself, no one will read the correction inside."

    Disingenuous balderdash from Dacre. I somehow think the need for an apology in this case on the front page is a bit more important than having the papert sell itself. Perhaps don't write such nonsense next time then on the front page?

    They should be fined £5m each never mind £50k and made to publish their apologies taking up no less than two thirds of the front page.

  3. Bloody ridiculous, trouble is he really believes, or really wants to believe, that the BBC is regulated by a "light touch" as it is direct competition for news hungry eyes on the internet. The more he says it, the more people come to believe it.

    And he near as dammit admits Littlejohn "makes things up" to start arguments. But the problem is, people take Littlejohn's opinions as fact.

  4. 'I do not know whether they are honest'

    I can help you out there Mr Dacre. They aren't honest, they are just the same old crap views churned out over and over again'

  5. It's all pretty obvious that if we make them put appologies on the front page they will get round it by having an additional cover. Much better to make them put the appology in the same typeface in the same place on the same day's issue as the origional transgression.


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