The Guardian’s assistant editor Michael White last night accused a senior civil servant of being a “pit bull” who was pursuing a “personal vendetta” against his newspaper.
Director of Communications at the Department for Work and Pensions Richard Caseby wrote a guest blog in Press Gazette yesterday attacking The Guardian’s accuracy when it comes to coverage of his department.
Former Sun and Sunday Times managing editor Caseby said: "Why is it that the national newspaper which devotes the most coverage to welfare reform reports on it with such pinpoint inaccuracy?"
He also suggested that The Guardian should be “blackballed” from new press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, adding: "Sorry, but the Guardian isn't fit to become a member of IPSO until it starts valuing accuracy."
The Guardian declined to offer an official response to Press Gazette yesterday.
But in a column published last night White said: "Richard Caseby sounds like a good hater, judging by what he says in print."
He questioned whether it was right for a civil servant to pen such as “boisterous” piece and said his comment about The Guardian joining IPSO was “perilously reckless”, because it was fell outside the remit of his department.
White wrote: "Whether or not the Guardian joins Ipso or becomes part of a different type of post-Leveson regulation regime is a sensitive topic, but a topic way above the pay grade of Whitehall press officers, especially those who appear not to realise that the Fleet St heavy mob at the oligarch end of the business would love to have snooty rivals like the Indy, Guardian or FT on board."
White said: “…it's not smart to have a street brawler pursuing personal vendettas in a post as sensitive as Caseby's at a time when the policies he is called upon to explain and defend are under such attack.”
White concluded it was time for DWP Secretary Ian Duncan Smith to “have a quiet word with his pitbull”.
In a separate Guardian news story, a senior Cabinet Office source told the paper “no action was likely to be taken against Caseby as he is a senior figure who should be free to decide how to resoond to press reports about his department”.
Michael White picture: Wikimedia (The Health Hotel)