Daily Mail targets Sir David Bell in pre-emptive strike


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The Independent Online

The objectivity of the Leveson Inquiry was questioned in articles across 12 pages of the Daily Mail, with one of the inquiry's assessors, Sir David Bell, accused of belonging to an "incestuous network" involving left-wing political, business and financial links that are backing statutory control of Britain's press.

The Mail suggested Sir David's membership of the leadership training body Common Purpose, the Media Standards Trust, the pressure group Hacked Off and his role as a trustee of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism – which played a key role in the BBC Newsnight programme that led to the corporation paying £185,000 in damages to Lord McAlpine – revealed a "quasi-masonic nexus" that "reached into every cranny of the Establishment".

The coverage was widely seen as a pre-emptive strike by Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail, against strict tightening of press regulation in the imminent Leveson Report. Sir David did not respond to the Mail's accusations, which one business associate said was "worthy of a Dan Brown novel, a conspiracy film directed by Oliver Stone, with David Icke acting as consultant".