How Meghan and Daily Mail editor Greig dealt a blow to Paul Dacre

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

TIM WALKER on the fallout from the the Duchess of Sussex's legal victory over the Mail on Sunday.

The Duchess of Sussex's legal victory over the Mail on Sunday and what she called its “illegal and dehumanising practices” represented a defeat, too, for the newspaper group's editor-in-chief Paul Dacre against Geordie Greig, his successor as editor of the Daily Mail.

Mandrake is reliably informed that Dacre – alongside Ted Verity, his appointee as editor of the Mail on Sunday – were adamant that the paper should contest the privacy and copyright case brought by Prince Harry's wife, pictured. Equally adamant that the paper should settle was Greig, who is answerable directly to the proprietor, Lord Rothermere.

"Geordie could see how this was going to play out, but Paul and Ted were having none of it," I am told. "The last time a Mail title was so publicly humiliated was in 1977 when David English – then the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail – was found to have made false allegations against Lord Ryder, chairman of the National Enterprise Board. David honourably offered his resignation, which was refused."

If Dacre does not resign, my informant speculates that the case, which turned on the Mail on Sunday's right to publish extracts from a letter that the Duchess had written to her estranged father, Thomas, is likely to hasten the departure of the 72-year-old newspaperman.

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He adds: "Rothermere is furious about the reputational damage to the business. If Paul goes, then it will leave Ted – whose relationship with Geordie is strained – looking exposed. His paper is also defending itself from allegations of phone-hacking from Byline Times [which it robustly denies]."

Boris Johnson has been rumoured to want Dacre to take over at the broadcasting regulator Ofcom and even offered to throw in a peerage by way of compensation for his current generous salary and share options. 

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The BBC is unlikely to have endeared itself to Dacre by leading its bulletins on the Duchess's triumph. Its BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell noted: "This is a pretty salutary day, I would suggest, for sections of the British media."

Oddly, the Daily Mail chose not to run the story on its front page in common with other newspapers. The Mail on Sunday used it as a single column on page four, saying it was "considering" an appeal. The copyright aspect of the Duchess's case is still to go to trial. 

Gavin's mate

Quite apart from laying himself open to allegations of cronyism, it's a wonder that Gavin Williamson's newly ennobled mate James Wharton feels he has the time to chair the independent Office for Students for two days a week on a salary of £60k a year.

He already declares directorships in GBMW (his company which provides strategic and management advice, ad hoc dividends and runs his private office); the law firm Squire Patton Boggs; the Policy Exchange think tank; the telecom outfits Inmarsat and IX Wireless; the energy company Cenergist; OES Equipment, which provides oilfield services; the property companies Parking Places Ltd and Fifth Capital London and Heartland Solutions Group Inc, a strategic consultancy.

GBMW, incidentally, represents the Soviet-born Alexander Temerko's company Aquind, which plans a controversial  £1.3bn cross-Channel undersea cable project between Britain and Europe.

Clive's silence

The BBC journalist Clive Myrie's reporting from the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus was remarkable in one respect at least. Not a single nurse, doctor, patient, or relative of a patient he had talked to in all of his hours on the hospital wards expressed a view about how the government had handled the crisis.

I asked Myrie if their views had been edited out or he'd stopped them when they'd tried talk about this. He has so far chosen not to reply. Who, what, when, where and why are the questions all journalists are traditionally supposed to answer in their reports, but I noticed "why" was also not addressed in Hugh Pym's subsequent reporting for the BBC from a hospital. I'll gladly publish any comment from Pym on this one, too.

One BBC hireling said "often there are contractual reasons why NHS staff cannot express views of this kind". Maybe, but it's interesting, then, how vociferous NHS doctors such as Rachel Clarke and Dominic Pimenta have been on the airwaves, Twitter and in the books they have written about the pandemic. Dr Rosena Allin-Khanpictured, the Labour MP and A&E doctor, has also been fearless about speaking up for her patients.

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