The Daily Mail has hit back at The Guardian over a leader which criticised “disingenuous” tabloids for invading Prince Harry’s privacy.
And the paper’s managing editor Alex Bannister has said it is “very rich” of The Guardian to call for tougher regulation from IPSO, when The Guardian subscribes to no outside regulator itself.
On Monday Prince Harry’s PR advisor issued an appeal to the press, and those on social media, to “pause and reflect before any further damage is done” around coverage of the royal’s romance with actress Meghan Markle.
In it the prince condemned: “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”.
In a leader column on Tuesday this week The Guardian said the tabloids are: “at their old game again of deliberately confusing what is in the public interest with what is interesting to the public”.
And it concluded: “It is time that IPSO, the new newspaper-backed press regulator (to which the Guardian does not subscribe) showed that it is ready to prove its worth.”
In a letter published by The Guardian, Daily Mail managing editor Alex Bannister said: “Your editorial accepted without question the claims made in the statement by Prince Harry’s communications secretary, then used them as a vehicle to attack the tabloids, including the Mail, which, of course, is a middle-market paper with more than three times as many ABC1 readers as the Guardian.
“This was disingenuous to say the least: the statement was clearly addressed to the media in general, and in particular social media. No section of the British press was singled out for criticism.
“Indeed, as far as the Daily Mail is concerned, we have received no complaints from the palace and were not responsible for any of the alleged wrongdoings listed in your editorial.”
He also condemned The Guardian’s “dumb silence” in its leaders over the debate around Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which could force publishers to join a Royal Charter-backed press regulator by imposing severe financial penalties on them if they don’t.
Bannister said: “Now the paper – which refused to join IPSO – has the presumption to tell IPSO how to conduct its business. Very rich when you submit to no independent regulation and, to use Sir Brian Leveson’s phrase, insist on ‘marking your own homework’.
“You appear dismayed that the tabloid press, which is allegedly already in severe decline, was not finished off by Leveson. Psychotic hatred of popular newspapers aside, what right does a newspaper that lost more than £60m last year have to lecture those that are commercially viable and succeed by having their fingers on the pulse of public opinion?
“May I humbly suggest that if the Guardian spent as much time examining its own deficiencies as it does obsessing about the Mail, it would be a much more readable paper. Why, it might even make a profit.”