In-depth profile of 'hard-working' and 'ferocious' new Sun editor Tony Gallagher

  • Rupert Murdoch “sticking two fingers up to the British establishment”
  • Sun will “scare politicians” now with no more "kowtowing"
  • Gallagher is a “journalists’ editor” and a “pure and simple journalist”
  • "Most ferocious, most determined, most competitive opponent"
  • “He has a very clear vision of what a good story is”

Appointing Tony Gallagher as editor of The Sun is a sign of Rupert Murdoch "sticking two fingers up to the establishment", according to a well-placed source.

Fleet Street insiders describe Gallagher as an "incredibly hard-working", "ferocious" and exacting editor who will raise the game of The Sun's newsgathering operation.

One senior source, who has knowledge of News UK, said: “Bringing Rebekah Brooks back after the hacking scandal is Rupert’s way of sticking two fingers up to the establishment.

"He doesn’t care what anyone thinks. And the same can be said for the appointment of Tony Gallagher." They said Gallagher’s record as a scourge of the establishment will have appealed to Murdoch.

Peter Oborne, a Daily Mail columnist who was the Telegraph's chief political commentator under Gallagher, suggested The Sun has "kowtowed" to Downing Street in recent times and that the new editor will change this.

Oborne said he will have “no hesitation” in challenging the Government and Gallagher's newspaper will “scare politicians”.

Oborne described Gallagher as a “journalists’ editor” and a “pure and simple journalist”.

“I do really admire Tony – he’s very inspirational,” Oborne told Press Gazette. “He understands journalism… he was a brilliant editor of The Daily Telegraph and I have no doubt that he will be a superb editor of The Sun.”

Oborne noted that it is “very unusual” for a journalist to edit both a broadsheet and tabloid. He added: “Most people do one thing or the other, but Tony is a pure newsman. He’s an old-fashioned editor.”

Gallagher showed he was not afraid to take on the British establishment when he led the MPs’ expenses scandal coverage as deputy editor of the Telegraph on 2009 (a story which Brooks turned down when it was offered to The Sun first).

As editor in 2010 Gallagher sent reporters to pose as constituents and tape Lib Dem ministers making unguarded comments. These included the revelation that business secretary Vince Cable said he had “declared war on Rupert Murdoch” and which prompted him to be taken away from deciding on the News Corp bid to buyout BSkyB. The story led to the Telegraph being censured by the PCC for engaging in an undercover ‘fishing expedition’.

Gallagher is married with three children. He is also understood to be a practicing Catholic who has wide interests ranging from sport – he supports West Ham United – to cuisine.

One former Telegraph colleague said: “He was interested in every aspect of the paper and that really shone through in the paper.”

Gallagher was sacked as Telegraph editor in January 2014 shortly after the appointment of Jason Seiken as editor-in-chief above his head.

Seiken did not agree with Gallagher’s top-down, forthright management style. It was seen as an approach in which reporters were more concerned about writing stories which appealed to the editor than writing stories which appealed to the reader.

Seiken favoured a more democratic newsroom in which reporters paid attention to online readership data more than the views of one editor.

Gallagher's appointment appears to suggest The Sun is embracing a more traditional hierarchical Fleet Street approach.

Former editor of the Telegraph’s Mandrake diary column Tim Walker took voluntary redundancy after 12 years at the paper in November 2014.

He told Press Gazette: “I must have been through ten editors at the Telegraph. He was the best by a country mile.

“He’s a highly intelligent man but also with very good popular instincts. He will certainly make The Sun into an even more formidable newsgathering operation than  it already is.

“Let’s not forget that he is the man who masterminded what was probably the biggest scoop of our times. He worked incredibly long hours and was a grafter.

“The people who found the pace difficult under him at the Telegraph were perhaps the people who had been used to an easier life before."

Tim Jotischky worked alongside Gallagher as a reporter, newsdesk colleague and editor across the Daily Mail and Telegraph over 15 years. He was one of many senior journalists to leave the Telegraph shortly after Gallagher’s departure and is now a senior consultant at PHA Media.

He described Gallagher as an “incredible on-the-road reporter”, “very, very tough to work for” and an unlikely company “ambassador”.

Describing a younger Gallagher, Jotischky said: “Anyone who worked with him at the same time will tell you he was the most ferocious, most determined, most competitive opponent you’d ever have.”

When he moved from being a reporter on to the Mail newsdesk, Jotischky said this felt “quite counterintuitive” to colleagues. “He was one of those people you always felt was a reporter and you couldn’t necessarily see him going onto the desk.

“I think, like most reporters, the initial adjustment to the newsdesk took a little while, but very quickly he was really into it.”

He added: “He was very, very tough to work for. I think that’s a characteristic in all the jobs he’s done, but he’s very straightforward – what you see is what you get.”

He described Gallagher as having “massive drive, massive journalistic vigour, which is very much the Daily Mail way”.

He told how Gallagher began to show different skills when at The Daily Telegraph, (where Jotischky worked under him as business editor) – making a “real effort to network with senior people” and taking on “ambassadorial work”.

Asked whether he will easily transfer from Telegraph and Mail journalism to The Sun, Jotischky said: “I think he’ll go between them quite easily. He’s a very versatile journalist.

“Before he went to the Telegraph I’d always thought of him as a Mail, mid-market [journalist] – it seemed very natural. I don’t think a red-top paper will present huge difficulties for him.”

Asked to predict how The Sun might change under Gallagher, Jotischky said he will get the paper “talked about” and “create a real culture there of breaking agenda-setting stories”.

He said: “What defines Tony and always has done is he’s just a newsman through and through. And he’s just passionate about breaking stories. And I’m sure he’ll bring that to The Sun.”

According to one source, Gallagher had "told anyone who asked" last week that he wasn’t going to The Sun and they said: "He deserves an Oscar for best actor.”

One senior Fleet Street source who knows Gallagher said: “He’s a brilliant, brilliant newsman. He has a very clear vision of what a good story is.”

They recalled working with Gallagher when he was a reporter: “If you were out in the pack with Tony Gallagher you knew he would always be the last person to leave the scene of a story.

"If there was door-knocking to be done, the pack would split up the door knocks and would share what they had in the pub. He was the sort of person who would leave the pub and do the knocks himself again.

“If you ask anyone on Fleet Street about their stories of Tony Gallagher as a reporter they will involve him going the extra mile, staying later, knocking on another 20 doors. Anyone who doesn’t come close to that had better watch out.”

As an editor, the source said Gallagher has a reputation as a hard taskmaster with a style that involved “a lot of shouting and if he doesn’t get what he wants you will know about it in a second”.

But they added: “A lot of people who criticise him don’t get on with him because they don’t work as hard as he does.”

Tony Gallagher factfile

Gallagher, 51, took a post-graduate course in journalism at City University and began his career on the Southern Evening Echo in Southampton in 1985 before moving on to South West News Agency in Bristol in 1987. He joined Today as a reporter in 1988 and then moved to the Daily Mail as a reporter in 1990.

At the Mail he rose to news editor and then assistant editor before joining The Daily Telegraph as head of news in October 2006. He became deputy editor in September 2007 and was made editor in November 2009 after leading coverage of the MPs’ expenses scandal earlier that year.

Gallagher was sacked as editor in January 2014 shortly after the appointment of Jason Seiken as editor-in-chief above his head.  He joined the Daily Mail as joint deputy editor in April 2014.

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