Nick Clegg claims Daily Mail is 'over-flowing with bile' - weeks after article criticising his late father-in-law

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has claimed that the Daily Mail is "overflowing with bile" about modern Britain.

Clegg said it was "quite understandable" that Labour leader Ed Miliband denounced the paper after it ran an article about his late father, Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, under the headline "The man who hated Britain".

Appearing on his weekly radio phone-in on LBC 97.3, he said that it was the Mail which "excelled" at doing down its own country.

"When I heard the Daily Mail accusing someone of saying that they didn't like Britain… I'm not a regular reader of this newspaper but every time I do open it, it just seems to be overflowing with bile about modern Britain," he said.

"They don't like working mothers, they don't like the BBC, they don't like members of the royal family, they don't like teachers, they don't like the English football team – the list goes on. Talk about kettles and pots.

"I think it was quite understandable that Ed Miliband should react like that because clearly what they had to say about his dad was just out of order. The Daily Mail is free to print what it likes, people like me are perfectly free to say that it's wrong.

"It seems to me that if anyone excels in denigrating and often vilifying a lot about modern Britain, it's the Daily Mail."

Clegg is the latest senior figure from across the political spectrum to voice concern at the way the Mail portrayed the Labour leader's father, who was a Jewish refugee who fled to Britain to escape the Nazis and served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War.

Today Daily Mail columnist Stephen Glover accused Miliband of staging a "show of calculated hysteria" for political reasons.

The row comes as the Privy Council prepares to consider rival proposals put forward by the Government and the industry for a royal charter establishing a new system of press regulation.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who sits on a Privy Council sub-committee set up to consider the issue, said it was unclear whether it would affect their deliberations.

"I don't know whether it's made any difference how you work through what is a really complicated issue. There are lots of difficulties around it which we will resolve in due course," he told BBC2's Newsnight.

He made clear his own distaste for the Mail article: "I think it probably will have done the Daily Mail some damage because it does look very unattractive and I think a lot of people will be pretty revolted by that approach."

He added: "I don't think everything that's unattractive should be made illegal."

Last month the Daily Mail published a piece which questiioned the democratic credentials of Clegg's father in law Jose Antonio Gonzalez after it noted that he was first appointed mayor of his local town under Franco dictatorship in Spain.

The Mail is the UK's second best selling daily newspaper and, since The Sun went behind a paywall, it may not be the newspaper title with the highest combined print and online audience in the UK.

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