Deedes backs Newland as Barclays win Telegraph

The purchase of the Telegraph titles by the Barclay brothers was widely seen as the best possible outcome

The Daily Telegraph’s Martin Newland should be given a clear run as editor by new owners the Barclay brothers, according to chief executive Jeremy Deedes.

He said of Newland, who took over last October: “If he can edit the paper as well as he has done in this situation, who knows what he can do with a clear run?” Deedes said the £665m purchase by the Barclays on Tuesday was the “best possible outcome”. He said: “Everything that the Telegraph stands for fits very squarely with the thinking of the Barclays and that must be a good thing.”

Telegraph journalists have welcomed news that the billionaire twins have finally succeeded in their sixmonth bid to acquire Britain’s biggest broadsheet.

Questions have been raised about the role of the Barclays’ publisher Andrew Neil in the new regime and about possible cost-cutting because of the high price that has been paid.

But the new proprietors are viewed as far better for journalists than the other remaining bidder – private equity firm 3i which was expected to slash costs and then re-sell the papers.

The Barclays are also seen by many as preferable to Daily Mail and General Trust, which dropped out of the race last week because the price went too high.

A successful bid from the Daily Mail owner could have led to months of more uncertainty as it sought to clear regulatory rules on media ownership.

Editor of The Daily Telegraph Spy column Charlie Methven is one of a three-man committee of journalists formed to make representations to the new owners.

He said: “The mood is of cautious optimism and relief because the process has been extremely wearing.

Department heads have, for the past few months, felt they couldn’t book holidays or make plans knowing anything they did was likely to be unpicked later on.

“There were specific problems with a lot of the other bids. With 3i’s projected cost-cutting regime, we felt that would have been pretty disruptive and cause a serious problem.

“German publisher Axel Springer had still not settled whether we would have to sign up to its publishing principles and the Mail would been likely to cause months of competition problems.”

The other members of the committee, formed by the Telegraph’s NUJ chapel, are legal editor Joshua Rozenberg and assistant editor Stephen Robinson (who is not in the NUJ). They were due to meet with the Telegraph Group NUJ chapel on Thursday in order find out what concerns and questions needed to be raised with the new owners.

The NUJ has built up a 300-strong chapel at Telegraph Group since being re-recognised by management last year (out of an estimated total of 700 editorial staff at the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs and The Spectator).

By Dominic Ponsford

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