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Friday 24 June 2011

Paul Dacre Must ... Stop Being A Bully

The Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor, whose propensity for swearing I covered recently, rails frequently about the supposed damage being done to the freedom of the press by the legal establishment. But, as with the paper he edits, he is adept at playing both sides of the argument when it suits him.

So it was no surprise (although dispiriting) to learn that Dacre’s reassuringly expensive lawyers had leaned on Kevin Arscott of Angry Mob fame because of a blogpost he had written two years ago. Kevin was accused of posting “material which is seriously abusive and defamatory of Mr Dacre”, although no specific statement was mentioned.

And there was the rub: Kevin’s piece was opinion, and whether or not the sentiments expressed might have found universal agreement should not impinge on his freedom to express them. Dacre’s array of dubiously talented hackery don’t seem to have any problem wheeling out this line of defence, or perhaps one should say – given their obscenely overmonied status – getting someone else to wheel out this line of defence on their behalf.

So here we have another straightforward case of hypocrisy from the man otherwise known as “The Vagina Monologue”. The right to free speech, in the world of Paul Dacre, is fully available only to those who can afford to enforce it. And that, in a nutshell, is bullying, which should surprise no-one who observes goings-on in Dacreland.

Indeed, in issue 1288 of Private Eye – over which, as far as is known, no writs have yet been issued – the bullying behaviour of Paul Dacre was summarised thus: “staff there are increasingly fearful that in one of his wild rages – while yelling ‘You will not resist me!’ – Dacre will actually hit them. ‘He’s completely out of control’ says one executive”.

This report followed the revelation in Eye 1287 that “Dacre has demanded an investigation into all emails and calls from the office to see who has been filing copy direct to the Eye”. So that’s control freakery on top of the bullying. And it doesn’t appear to be having any effect.

And nor will threatening bloggers: the intervention by Dacre’s lawyers has merely highlighted his hypocrisy and unpleasantness, as many other bloggers have shone a little more light on this singularly unsavoury individual. That, of course, is my opinion, which I am entitled to express.

I know this because the Press Complaints Commission, whose Editors’ Code Committee is headed by one Paul Dacre, has said so when defending his hacks. So it must be true.

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