Paul Dacre rips into Daily Mail successor Geordie Greig in astonishing letter to the FT

Former editor accuses replacement of being ‘economic with the actualite’ over claims about improved advert sales

Colin Drury
Saturday 12 October 2019 13:31 BST
Mr Dacre, who edited the ‘Daily Mail’ for 26 years, was said to have been devastated at being moved upstairs to make way for Mr Greig
Mr Dacre, who edited the ‘Daily Mail’ for 26 years, was said to have been devastated at being moved upstairs to make way for Mr Greig (Reuters)

He was a newspaper editor famed for his seething, expletive-laden outbursts at underlings: Paul Dacre’s conferences at the Daily Mail were often so blue staff nicknamed them “the vagina monologues”.

The language may have been toned down but there is no disguising that old fury in a scathing letter sent to the Financial Times, in which he launches a caustic attack on his own successor, Geordie Greig.

The letter is remarkable not only for its insight into a bitter personal Fleet Street rivalry, but for its candid airing of dirty laundry from the very top of the company which still employs Mr Dacre – the 70-year-old was not so much removed from his post last year but moved upstairs, becoming editor-in-chief of the paper’s parent company, DMG Media, a position he still holds.

But that did not stop him describing the current editor of DMG’s flagship title as “economic with the actualité” over a claim by Mr Greig during an interview in the FT that hundreds of advertisers, scared off by the Mail’s editorial tone during Mr Dacre’s rein, had returned during his own tenure, which has been widely seen as an attempt to detoxify the title.

In the astonishing attack, the famously pro-Brexit chief said the Remain-supporting Mr Greig had made a “solid start” to the job but had some way to go until “he has notched up a small fraction” of Mr Dacre’s own achievements.

“He claims 265 advertisers came back to the Daily Mail in his year as editor,” stormed Mr Dacre in response. “In fact, far more than that number left during the same period.”

The former boss pointed out that, under his editorship, the newspaper “won an unprecedented number of awards for the quality of its journalism and its countless great campaigns, whether launching the war on plastic, cleaning up Britain, Alzheimer’s awareness, dignity for the elderly or justice for Stephen Lawrence”.

He added: “As for Mr Greig, I congratulate him for making a solid start as editor and continuing so many of those campaigns but I’m sure he’ll forgive me for suggesting that he (or his PR) defers his next lunch with the FT until he has notched up a small fraction of those journalists’ achievements.”

That there is no love lost between the two men is one of Fleet Street’s most open secrets.

Mr Dacre, who edited the Daily Mail for 26 years, was said to have been devastated at being moved upstairs to make way for Mr Greig.

Viscount Rothermere, the paper’s owner, is understood to have made the decision because Mr Dacre’s increasingly angry Brexit stance – including a front page accusing high court judges of being “enemies of the people” – was embarrassing him.

Responding to request for comment, a spokesperson for DMG Media said: “Over the last 12 months Mail newspapers has grown its market share of UK press advertising.

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“The advertising revenue from the 265 new advertisers in Mail newspapers more than offset the loss from those advertisers we didn’t see in the past financial year. We are delighted that revenue from advertising in print and digital was substantially greater than last year.”

As for Lord Rothermere, he is unlikely to be pleased with this very public blast from his paper’s past. The owner is thought to have kept his outgoing editor within the company as a means of containing the power struggle and avoiding recriminations. He will now have learnt that Mr Dacre is unlikely ever to allow his successor to control his narrative.

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