The sacked chief political correspondent of The Sunday Times has condemned the paper for printing front-page leads consisting of “reheated political cuttings jobs”.
Eben Black was dismissed by News International last week after five years in the Sunday Times job. He decided to speak out after being angered by a story on the Media Guardian website.
It quoted News International sources as saying he lost his job because he did not bring in enough scoops.
Black said: “I did not want this to become a public matter but I have been outraged by the fact that somebody from The Sunday Times has been giving off-the-record briefings against me.”
Responding to the criticism he said: “I would suggest that it’s not true. The kind of reheated political cuttings job which they seem to like leading The Sunday Times on is not my idea of an exclusive, quite frankly.
“There’s been a constant flow of what I would consider to be exclusive and good stories. The Sunday Times is the first newspaper I have worked at where I have been asked two particular questions by the powers that be: if it hasn’t happened yet, then how come you know about it? And what will the press office say?” Black said he was offered the job of defence correspondent and sacked for “gross misconduct” because he turned it down saying: “It’s not something I’m interested in and it’s a demotion from where I was.” He said there were no other grounds for dismissal and he was taking legal advice.
Black was political editor of the News of the World and was a political correspondent on Today and The Sun.
He said: “The Sunday Times is desperately trying to improve its image and maybe it’s because of my tabloid background that they are saying ‘we don’t want a tabloid journalist working for us any more’. I have worked on tabloids for so long and found tabloid political reporting to be absolutely straight – which contrasts with some of the things which I’ve seen on The Sunday Times.”
Sunday Times managing editor Richard Caseby declined to comment.
By Dominic Ponsford