Ian Burrell: Never has the Mail been given such a pasting

  • @iburrell

Never, in all the years of Paul Dacre's editorship, has the journalism of the Daily Mail come under such sustained public attack. Again and again the editor-in-chief sighed in exasperation as Robert Jay QC, counsel to the Leveson Inquiry, questioned the working methods of the paper Mr Dacre has overseen for two decades.

The silk highlighted that the Mail had topped a table of papers using disgraced private detective Steve Whittamore (since convicted of data protection offences) and suggested it must have known it was encouraging criminality. He seized on the columnist Jan Moir's description of the death of the pop singer Stephen Gately, which provoked a storm of complaints. He raised the Mail's reporting of the retired teacher Chris Jefferies. He highlighted complaints over the paper's coverage of disability issues. Most hurtful of all, he questioned Mr Dacre's motive in campaigning for the parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Clearly furious, Mr Dacre twiddled his pen, fiddled with his paperwork and said the lawyer didn't understand how journalism worked. Mr Dacre is used to being revered by his peers. "You have painted a very bleak picture of the Daily Mail," he complained.