We're a powerful force for good, Sun editor insists

 

The editor of The Sun yesterday said he had learnt from his mistakes as he sought to distance his regime from the "anything goes" practices of the tabloid's past. Dominic Mohan, who has had to deal with the recent arrest of one of his senior reporters on suspicion of paying police and the arrest of the tabloid's former beauty editor on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice, warned the Leveson Inquiry that statutory regulation of the press would be "open to abuse".

Mr Mohan said that remarks he made in 2002 thanking "Vodafone's lack of security" for exclusives in rival paper the Daily Mirror were a joke. "It was a cheap shot at the Mirror, attempting to undermine their journalism because they had a particularly good year," he said.

He said it was "well-known" in Fleet Street how to hack into mobile phone voicemails. Dressed in a suit and tie, Mr Mohan described how staff at the tabloid now attend seminars on ethics, Samaritan-led workshops on suicide and discussions about how to treat and understand Travellers. The paper is, he claimed a "powerful force for good" thanks to its campaigns and efforts to explain complicated stories in a clear way.

Mr Mohan told the Inquiry that although he has made mistakes over the years, he has learnt from them. He no longer used private detectives, he said, instead using "search agents".

The subtext was clear. Although Mr Mohan appeared at the High Court on the same day as Kelvin MacKenzie, the controversial former Sun editor, the two men edited very different papers.

Mr MacKenzie, whose time at The Sun from 1981 to 1994 included the "Gotcha" front page on the day the Royal Navy sank the Argentinean battleship Belgrano during the Falklands War, has already branded Lord Leveson's review of the practices of Britain's press a "ludicrous" exercise.

He was expected to be combative and abrasive when he appeared as a witness yesterday. Instead, however, he tempered his criticism and admitted that when he left, his successors were more cautious "and were probably right to be more cautious".

Normal service was resumed when he decided to take on Lord Leveson. He said there was "no certainty" in journalism, and later compared Fleet Street and the law's quest for truth and facts as both doomed to human error.

Asked by the inquiry's counsel Robert Jay QC if he had concerns about privacy during his years as Sun editor, he replied "Not really, no," and said that any definition of the public interest depended on which newspaper was publishing a story. Hack into Tony Blair's mobile and discover the Prime Minister is lying about the Iraq War? "Publish that in The Sun you get six months: publish it in The Guardian and you get a Pulitzer Prize."

He said The Sun would have come "very very close to being shut down" if it had "got the Milly Dowler story wrong". The reference to The Guardian's recent correction regarding who was responsible for deleting the murdered schoolgirl's voicemail prompted Lord Leveson to state that it was "an interesting assertion" if he meant the whole Dowler story was "completely wrong".

Later, Mr Mohan claimed that Rupert Murdoch had drastically scaled back his day-to-day involvement with the tabloid since Mr MacKenzie's time.

Whereas the Australian proprietor spoke to Kelvin MacKenzie almost every day when he was editor, Mr Mohan said that he goes months without talking to Mr Murdoch.

"Sometimes he might ring several times a week; other times I might not hear from him for a month or two," Mr Mohan said.

Mr Mohan also insisted that The Sun's decision to back the Conservative Party in the 2010 general election was not taken by Mr Murdoch but was a "group decision". "I think we felt that perhaps ... it was time for a change," he said. "We certainly sensed that among our readers and I think I reflected that."

Asked by Mr Jay whether the idea of changing sides was "his or yours", Mr Mohan replied: "It was a group decision. Me and my fellow executives felt that was the right way to go and we made our feelings known to Mr Murdoch."

Although Mr Mohan initially boasted to the inquiry that there were only a few occasions when a complaint against his paper had been upheld by the PCC, he later admitted that there had been 38 complaints of breaches of the PCC code which had been settled before they reached formal adjudication.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz