MANDRAKE: All water under the bridge for Daily Mail editor-in-chief
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Paul Dacre's time at the newspaper group may be coming to an end, but record profits reported by his hydroelectricity firm in Scotland will keep a smile on his face, says TIM WALKER.
The letter sent to journalists at the Daily Mail informing them of their lockdown working arrangements was signed by the proprietor Lord Rothermere and Geordie Greig, its editor, but not, intriguingly, Paul Dacre, the newspaper group's editor-in-chief.
'Paul's many friends and admirers on the paper are concerned that he might not be coming back when all this is over,' whispers my informant, possibly with tongue-in-cheek. 'Geordie, for one, would be bereft and would miss being able to draw on the great man's many years of experience.'
So far as the 72-year-old newspaperman is concerned, his period at the Mail – when he single-mindedly championed the cause of Brexit – may all seem like water under the bridge. Still, he has managed to find a way of making money even out of that: the hydroelectric outfit that he runs on his Scottish estate has just reported record profits.
The Canaird River Company Limited, where Dacre and his son Alexander serve as directors, has just revealed that it made £500,000 in 2019, £100,000 up on the £400,000 made in 2018. The latest accounts show ongoing accumulated profits of £1,435,304.
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It's a long way from Canaird's first year of trading in 2014, when it posted a £963 loss, though it's still to make the £5 million that Dacre was originally hoping the venture would be worth to him.
Canaird runs a 1.2-megawatt hydro scheme on Dacre's £2.4m 17,000-acre Highlands estate near Ullapool, with his interest in it owned via the Langwell Estate Family Partnership by way of a 40% stake. No news on Langwell's finances, though as it's a private partnership with no requirement to make its accounts public.
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Ironically enough, Dacre has been in receipt of tens of thousands of pounds from the EU under the common agricultural policy for his Scottish estate, in addition to his estate in Wadhurst, Sussex.
Michael Gove's office insisted last week that it wasn't him who'd 'liked' hardcore pornography on his Twitter account – 'many people have the password to it,' said an aide – but it was scarcely good for the wannabe prime minister's image.
Interestingly, during the coalition years, Gove, as education secretary, had disagreed with Nick Clegg that the 'menacing' threat of internet pornography should be addressed in schools. He felt it was a matter that should be left to the discretion of teachers.
What with everything else that's going on, his boss Boris Johnson is unlikely to be bothered by the story, and, as for the other key relationship in Gove's life – with Rupert Murdoch – the newspaper tycoon is also likely to be relaxed. He put Rebekah Brooks in charge of his UK operation after her husband Charlie Brooks had admitted in the phone-hacking trial of 2014 that he'd attempted to hide a collection of pornographic DVDs in an underground car park lest they be found by the police.
Although Theresa May has said she understands the public anger against Dominic Cummings – she felt he had not 'followed the spirit' of the lockdown rules – David Cameron has uttered not a word on the subject.
When I inquire if the silent man of British politics would just for once like to express a view on the subject, his factotum Laurence Mann – normally very helpful – does not respond. Cameron spoke a lot about morality in public life during his period in No.10 – he liked the idea of a 'big society', where everyone played their part – but now appears keen to keep as low a profile as possible.
He has been spending lockdown at his Cotswolds home, but, a keen swimmer, he was no doubt itching to get to his holiday home in Cornwall during the heatwave.
Spare a thought for Esther McVey. The Tory Brextremist was in receipt of £2,110 worth of free hospitality at Royal Ascot last year, courtesy of Alizeti Capital Ltd and Normandie Stud Ltd.
This month the five-day event is expected to go ahead behind closed doors so McVey and other MPs who like a flutter and a few quaffs of champagne will not be admitted. There will be no Royal procession, morning suits or millinery, and, for the first time in her 68-year reign, even the Queen will be giving it a miss.
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