Press is boorish, intolerant and belligerent, says editor's widow

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The Independent Online

The widow of Hugh Cudlipp, the late editor-in-chief of the Mirror Group and one of the most famous journalists of the last century, has expressed her outrage at the "boorish and belligerent" behaviour of guests at the British Press Awards.

The widow of Hugh Cudlipp, the late editor-in-chief of the Mirror Group and one of the most famous journalists of the last century, has expressed her outrage at the "boorish and belligerent" behaviour of guests at the British Press Awards.

Lady Cudlipp, who attended the annual event to present an award, said the ceremony threatened to further undermine public confidence in the national press.

"The whole evening was indicative of what the British Press Awards - and some journalists have become - rough, rude, rowdy, jealous, intolerant, boorish and belligerent," Lady Cudlipp wrote in a letter to The Independent's MediaWeekly today. "The reputation and circulation of their papers will suffer from this lack of pride in the whole of their trade and the job they are doing."

The ceremony, on 15 March at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London, descended into acrimony after Bob Geldof came on to the stage as the Hugh Cudlipp Award was being given to The Sun for its coverage of the 20th anniversary of Band Aid. Geldof took the opportunity to launch into a scathing attack on the British press for what he claimed was a failure to report comprehensively on the issues facing Africa.

Lady Cudlipp, who was standing on the stage as Geldof traded insults with hecklers, said she was angry at the intervention. "I was astonished, then appalled when Bob Geldof leapt unbidden to the stage, as I was handing the Hugh Cudlipp Award to The Sun for its Band Aid coverage," she wrote.

"He grabbed the mike, stood in front of me, ignored Andrew Marr [the MC of the event] and annoyed everyone with crude words and criticism. Someone, somewhere must have tipped him off because the winners are a guarded secret until the event."

Lady Cudlipp, a former journalist herself, said she was establishing a Hugh Cudlipp Award for media students, in the hope of "providing the next generations of talented young journalists with an appreciation of editorial integrity".

In the wake of the British Press Awards, at which the News of the World was named newspaper of the year, editors of a number of newspapers, including The Independent, said they could no longer support the event in its current format.

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