Rothermere, the last press baron, is dead

LORD ROTHERMERE, chairman of Associated Newspapers and scion of the last great press dynasty, died of a heart attack in London late on Monday at the age of 73, just three months after the death of Sir David English, editor-in-chief of Associated's Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard.

The newspaper group is now in the hands of 30-year-old Jonathan Harmsworth, Rother- mere's son.

Vere Harold Esmond Harms- worth, third Viscount Rothermere was the great nephew of Lord Northcliffe, founder of the dynasty and the model for press barons to come.

Yesterday the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, led the tributes for a man whose newspapers had long supported the Conservative Party.

"He was an extraordinary man and underneath that very bluff exterior was a sharp mind and a very kind personality."

The death of Rothermere so close to that of English robs the company of two towering figures. Editorially, it leaves Paul Dacre, English's successor, in an unassailable position. It is known he believes the Evening Standard, the title he edited before the Daily Mail, is weak under editor Max Hastings and he may want to make changes to the Mail on Sunday. Mr Dacre may also promote someone to the editorship of the Daily Mail to allow him to focus more on group activities.

His relationship with the new Lord Rothermere will be crucial. Where Vere Harms- worth always wanted to be a journalist, Jonathan has concentrated on the business side of newspapers.

He trained at Mirror Group before moving to the Daily Mail and General Trust's (DMGT) regional newspapers. Until his father's death he was managing director of the Evening Standard.

"Dacre and Jonathan are hardly what you'd call a dream team," said a company source yesterday. "They are of different generations and have very different attitudes. Jonathan is actually quite prudent with money, and the company is renowned for its corporate extravagance."

Now that the family baronies of the Astors, Aitkens and Berrys have disappeared, to be replaced by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black and Lord Hollick, the inexperienced Jonathan Harmsworth has the last of the dynasties on his shoulders.

His father was also an unknown quantity when he took on Associated from his father in 1970 and was known as "mere Vere". Then Northcliffe's Daily Mail was on its last legs, but Rothermere had formed a partnership with David English, when he was features editor of Associated's now defunct Daily Sketch. They created a new tabloid Mail, which targeted women and middle England, with high standards of tabloid journalism and an unmoving set of middle-class values.

The Mail hankered for an era before the Sixties when patriotism was blind, divorce shameful and hard work was the only way up for the aspirational. The formula worked and in 1977 the dominant Daily Express too became tabloid. By the mid-Eighties the Mail had overtaken its rival. In 1982, Rothermere decided to launch the Mail on Sunday.

While most tabloid newspapers are in decline, the Mail is selling more than 2.3 million copies a day, a million more than The Express and close to overtaking the Mirror.

When Rothermere took over Associated Newspapers its profits were pounds 3.7m and turn- over was pounds 58.5m a year. The DMGT last year made profits of pounds 81m on turnover of pounds 658m.Jonathan Harmsworth inherits 75 per cent of the company.

Rothermere's private life was a long way from the values of his flagship newspaper.

The ruddy-faced old Etonian enjoyed the life of a bon viveur and lived in Paris for years with his long-term partner, the former model Maiko Lee. His wife, Patricia "Bubbles" Rothermere, lived the life of a socialite in London. Rothermere married Ms Lee in 1993 shortly after Bubbles died.

Despite his newspapers' politics Rothermere was a Europhile who befriended Tony Blair when he was in opposition. He moved onto the Labour benches in the House of Lords after Labour's election win.

Mr Dacre said of Lord Rothermere: "He was that rare mix of a brilliant businessman who understood newspapers."

Lady Thatcher said: "He was one of the great figures in the British newspaper industry this century."

Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, said: "As a newspaper proprietor who believed above all in empowering his journalists and investing in editorial talent Lord Rothermere was a rare and singular creature. His passing should be mourned by journalists everywhere."

Rupert Murdoch, head of The News Corporation, described Lord Rothermere's death as a "tremendous loss for the media industry".

t One of Lord Rothermere's last business decisions was to close Channel One, the cable television station that provides local news to viewers in London and Bristol, this month.The station had not attracted enough subscribers to make it economically viable.

Obituary, Review, page 6

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Insight Manager

£40000 - £43000 Per Annum plus company bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Hydrographic Survey Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Structural Engineer

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Structural Engineer Job...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHELTENHAM - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - A...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape