Ex-Loaded editor says mag was 'gateway' to hard porn

Martin Daubney has admitted being 'secretly ashamed'of editing the lads' mag Loaded.

Daubney, who edited the magazine between 2002-2010, also conceded that it could be a 'gateway'to harder pornograpy.

Writing in the Daily Mail, he said that 'such thoughts came home to roost'in 2009 when he first became a father.

'It had such an effect on me and changed my views so forcibly that within a year I'd quit a dream job that, for me, had become a moral nightmare,'said Daubney.

'When I look back now, I see we were severely pushing the envelope of what was considered decent.

'We were normalising soft porn, and in so doing we must have made it more acceptable for young men to dive into the murky waters of harder stuff on the internet. And, for that, I have a haunting sense of regret."

IPC Media completed the sale of Loaded to Vitality Publishing in 2010. In common with most other Lads' Mag titles, circulation has collapsed in recent years. In 2000 it had a monthly sale of over 350,000, but the most recent ABC figures for Loaded show circulation was down 30 per cent to 34,505.

In April the magazine was sold to former lawyer and adult film producer Paul Baxendale-Walker two weeks after its former owner Vitality entered administration with debts of almost £1m. And last month it emerged that former News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson is set to become its new editor.

Daubney admitted that as Loaded's sales plummeted, 'the magazine was getting grubbier to the point where even I didn't want to be seen with it on the Tube", but that he became a 'skilled defender of the indefensible".

This included winning debates at Durham University Debating Society and the Oxford Union Debating Society,

Following the birth of his first child Sonny, however, Daubney said his life had 'become a charade, switching between diametrically-opposed extremes – nipples by day and nappies by night".

'I started seeing the women in my magazine not as sexual objects, but as somebody's daughter. Some of Loaded's models had children themselves, and I'd think 'what's your kid going to think of you when they're old enough to understand Mummy used to get her boobs out for a living?'

'To think that the girls who posed for our magazine had once had their nappies changed, had once been taught to take their first steps and had once been full of childlike hope . . . it was almost heartbreaking."

According to Daubney, he quit in July 2010 when it was announced that the magazine was being sold to a 'small publisher with a murky reputation. It was the excuse I needed to leave. 'I woke up and thought 'I can't do this any more' and quit."

He added: 'I suddenly wanted to vanish and do something decent with my life. I became a house dad, which fulfilled me more than Loaded ever had.

'Now, nearly two years on, I am ashamed at the way I used to defend my magazine.'

Daubney claimed that during his time at the helm he and his team were kept in a 'morally-retarded state'and 'became numbed to nudity".

The Mail has recently been campaigning for new rules forcing internet users to opt in if they want access to pornography, and Daubney said he 'couldn't be more emphatic in my support".

Writing for Press Gazette in November 2010, Daubney said the high point of his career at Loaded was the debate at the Oxford Union: 'I won, too, trouncing Times dinosaur Libby Purves and Loose Woman Carol McGiffin on the topic of censorship of the female form. I've always fiercely believed in freedom of expression, but everybody just thought we were thick beer monsters.

'We weren't: we were intelligent working class lads who don't like being told how to think by the sneering intellectual snobs of our so-called liberal media. I won by a majority of 3:1, and my mum and dad were in the audience in that historical debating hall, crying with pride."

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