Profile: Paul Dacre, Daily Mail editor
- 2 October 2013
- From the section UK
Paul Dacre has been editor of the Daily Mail since 1992.
He is also editor-in-chief of DMG Media, which publishes titles including the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro.
Mr Dacre attended University College School in Hampstead, north London, on a scholarship and later studied at the University of Leeds.
He became editor of both his school's magazine and his university's student newspaper, and later said his early experiences taught him that "boring doesn't pay the mortgage" and "sensation sells papers".
He began his career as a reporter at the Daily Express in 1970 and joined the Daily Mail in 1980. He was appointed editor of the Evening Standard in March 1991, then returned to the Daily Mail as editor just over a year later.
Since then Mr Dacre has become a powerful figure in British politics.
In an article entitled "Paul Dacre: the most dangerous man in Britain?" the Guardian wrote: "To some - including many in government - he is a malign force, using his paper to hound minorities and other vulnerable targets, and savage liberalism in any form.
"To others he is the most gifted journalist of his generation, a moral man with his finger on the pulse of Middle England."
The Daily Mail under Mr Dacre is known for its hostility to the Labour Party and tough positions on issues including immigration and benefits.
A profile of the newspaper in the New Yorker said: "The Mail presents itself as the defender of traditional British values, the voice of an overlooked majority whose opinions inconvenience the agendas of metropolitan elites.
"To its detractors, it is the Hate Mail, goading the worst curtain-twitching instincts of an island nation, or the Daily Fail, fuelling paranoia about everything from immigration to skin conditions."
'Force for good'
Mr Dacre was widely praised for the Mail's 1997 headline, "Murderers", which accused five men of killing teenager Stephen Lawrence, and invited them to sue the paper if it was wrong.
In January 2012, two of those men were convicted of the racially motivated murder, and Mr Dacre said the success of the Mail's 15-year battle for justice proved that "the power of journalism, courageous headlines and relentless campaigning can act as a huge force for good in society".
After the verdict, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland wrote: "There were few voices more critical in the demand for justice for Stephen Lawrence than Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail."
"It was, without question, the Mail's finest hour," he added.
The Mail was also praised last year after its campaign to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon, 46, to the US for hacking into Pentagon computers.
Janice Sharp, mother of the Asperger's sufferer, said: "I want to thank Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail, who has stood up for Gary non-stop for years."
At the Leveson Inquiry into press culture, practice and ethics, Mr Dacre was asked if the Mail aimed to reflect the "fears and prejudices" of its readers.
He replied: "Anxieties rather than prejudices is the word I'd use."
During the inquiry, actor Hugh Grant alleged that Mail on Sunday journalists hacked his phone, but Mr Dacre insisted phone hacking was not practised by the Mail on Sunday or the Daily Mail.
The hacking scandal prompted calls for statutory press regulation, but Mr Dacre was one of several editors to sign a letter calling that idea "fundamentally wrong".
They said the British press had been "free of political control for 300 years" and backed plans for "a new independent system of self-regulation".
Many at the Leveson Inquiry and since have raised concerns about the power of the press, and of Mr Dacre himself.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said both Conservative and Labour politicians had, for a long time, "screamed and shouted" about Mr Dacre but "haven't dared to do so publicly".
He added: "Every politician of all parties has tried to woo the Mail. It's a very powerful newspaper."
He particularly pointed to the close relations between Mr Dacre and former prime minister Gordon Brown. "Paul Dacre was a guest at many of the most intimate family occasions Gordon Brown had," he said.
In September 2013, the Mail ran an article about Ralph Miliband - late father of Labour leader Ed Miliband - calling him "the man who hated Britain".
Ed Miliband called this a "lie" and demanded an apology, but the Mail stood by its story - though it later apologised for publishing a picture of Ralph Miliband's tombstone with the pun "grave socialist" on its website.
Speaking about the row, Labour's former director of communications Alistair Campbell said Mr Dacre was a "bully and a coward, and like most cowards he's a hypocrite as well".
Mr Campbell added that the paper attacked anyone who did not "conform to Paul Dacre's narrow, twisted view of the world".
Mr Dacre is a former member of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and current chairman of the Editors' Code of Practice Committee which writes the PCC code of practice for newspaper and magazine journalists.
In an interview with Tatler magazine published in October 2013, Lord Rothermere, chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust, which owns Associated Newspapers, said Mr Dacre was "still doing a brilliant job" and had agreed a new contract, following speculation the 64-year-old would retire.