Newspaper pioneer Eddy Shah held over underage sex allegations

  • @iburrell

In his day, Eddy Shah was regarded as a revolutionary for his pioneering use of the latest media technology. It was Mr Shah, a former regional publisher and founder of the now defunct Today newspaper, who paved the way for Rupert Murdoch to transform the British press more than 25 years ago.

Yesterday Mr Shah, 67, now a property developer living in Wiltshire, was on police bail. He was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in relation to allegations of sex with an underage girl eight years ago. Four others, three men and a woman, were also arrested.

The allegations are said to relate to a woman in her 20s who claims that she had sex with the men, now aged between 51 and 67, when she was between 13 and 15. The arrested woman is reported to be the girl's mother.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the five were arrested on Tuesday under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. He said: "Those arrested were: a 63-year-old man from Kent; a 51-year-old woman from Kent; a 51-year-old-man from Kent; a 67-year-old-man from Wiltshire; a 62-year-old man from East Sussex. All of the alleged offences occurred before 2003."

In the modern media era of constant technological innovation, papers with colour photographs and the introduction of desktop publishing that allowed writers to input articles without the assistance of typesetters hardly seems cutting edge.

But Mr Shah's introductions as a local publisher in Warrington made many traditional roles redundant and brought him into conflict with trade unions. The publisher confronted strikers on a picket line that was up to 10,000-strong during industrial action that went on for seven months.

Three years later, Mr Murdoch followed Mr Shah's example and introduced changes that prompted the Wapping dispute of 1986, a pivotal moment in media history when 6,000 newspaper workers went on strike.

Born Selim Jehan Shah, the businessman has an English mother and Iranian father. He grew up in Scotland and Sussex. He is best-known for the launch of the national middle-market newspaper Today in 1986.

He also briefly entered the field of television production, although on his "official website" he refers to himself as "author Eddy Shah", having moved to the US and written a succession of novels in the 1990s. More recently he penned the internet-based blockbuster Second World.

Married to a former model who appeared in the Bond film Casino Royale, Mr Shah is a father of three and runs the Wiltshire Golf Country Club and Hotel at Wootton Bassett.

Scotland Yard said yesterday that the five people arrested must report to local police stations in January, pending further police inquiries.