As more hacking trials have come to light, and revelations made about yet more illegal behaviour carried out on behalf of our free and fearless press, it has become clear that a whole succession of editors, executives and sundry hangers-on misled the Leveson Inquiry. Yes, they lied on oath, with the world’s media looking on. And now has come what looks like a very major media figure being caught bang to rights.
You f***ing calling me a liar, c***?!?
The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, for more than a quarter of a century the editor of the Daily Mail, is well known for claiming rather more credit than he deserves for getting the killers of teenager Stephen Lawrence convicted. Nick Davies, in Flat Earth News, his go-to book on the machinations of the Fourth Estate, told how Dacre had already laid down the line to take on the murder before the dead teenager’s father was interviewed.
That line was to be hostile, but after Neville Lawrence realised that the reporter’s editor was someone he had done some plastering for some years previously, he got in touch with Dacre. Mail reporter Hal Austin got back to the office to write up the interview to find that the line to take had suddenly changed, as he was told “Do something sympathetic”.
But when this was put to Dacre at the Leveson Inquiry, he dismissed the idea that his previous acquaintance with Neville Lawrence had anything to do with the Mail’s line on the story. Robert Jay QC put to Dacre the suggestion “that the reason for the Daily Mail siding with the Lawrence family was the fact that Mr Neville Lawrence did plastering work in your home several years previously”. The response was caustic and emphatic.
“Are you really telling me that I would risk going to jail, I would risk destroying my career, I would put my proprietor and my paper in that position, and that I couldn't take a principled stand against something I felt very strongly about, and that was only because this man, at some stage many years previously, had done some plastering work for me? I really do find that insulting and it's with more sorrow than anger that I respond to it.”
Dacre, as Brian Cathcart has pointed out, in fact risked next to nothing - this was yet another part of the Mail’s Stephen Lawrence myth. The paper had blown hot and cold over many aspects of the case, veering from the supportive to the downright obstructive.
And now, i News has revealed that “The Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has admitted that he ran the newspaper’s famous front page, calling five suspects in the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence ‘murderers’, because the teenager’s father had performed excellent work plastering his house”. As was put to him and refuted emphatically at Leveson.
Adam Sherwin’s article continues “In a rare interview, Mr Dacre tells a landmark BBC series marking the 25th anniversary of the murder, that the Mail would not have backed the family’s campaign without his unlikely personal connection to the Lawrences”, and quotes Dacre telling “He did a lot of plastering work. He was clearly a very decent, hard-working man. Would the Mail have done it without that knowledge? Probably not”.
Dacre goes on to say those suspected of killing Stephen Lawrence “were taking the piss out of British justice”. Whereas he was just taking the piss out of the Leveson Inquiry.
So that’s another reason for Leveson Part 2 to go ahead. Hello Matt Hancock.