Foot resigns from 'Mirror': Bitter dispute over banned column 'forces out' campaigning journalist

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The Independent Online
PAUL FOOT, whose column over 13 years in the Daily Mirror was regarded as the hallmark of the newspaper's commitment to campaigning journalism, resigned yesterday after a bitter dispute with the editor.

In an ironic twist, Lord Hollick, the Labour peer who had a key role in installing management figures whose tactics were bitterly criticised by Mr Foot, resigned from the board of Mirror Group Newspapers yesterday over 'governance and policy matters'.

Roy Greenslade, a former Mirror editor, said last night: 'Paul Foot's columns stood for compassionate, campaigning, investigative journalism and its passing marks the end of the Mirror as a decent newspaper.'

In a resignation letter, Mr Foot, who has written more than 630 columns intended to provide a last resort for ordinary people denied all other recourses to justice, said his position had become 'intolerable'.

David Banks, recently made editor of the Mirror by David Montgomery, the Mirror Group's chief executive, last week refused to publish Mr Foot's column, which criticised 'macho management' techniques. Mr Banks issued a statement offering Mr Foot sick leave and expressed the hope that he 'would seek professional help'.

Mr Foot, 55, who was Journalist of the Year in the 1990 What the Papers Say Awards, said: 'The Mirror will not publish my column and the editor has told the world that I am mad. I wrote to him asking if he would retract that statement, but he has not even replied.' He said that he would consult lawyers over the editor's remarks and has no plans to work for any other newspaper.

Mr Foot has been a member of the far-left Socialist Workers Party since it was formed in 1962 under the name International Socialists. Despite the qualms of other Mirror staff during Robert Maxwell's ownership, he defended his decision to continue working there because he was 'left alone' to produce his column.

Lord Hollick, who was a non-executive director, was instrumental in the appointment of Mr Montgomery, a former editor of Rupert Murdoch's Today and News of The World.