By Dominic Ponsford
Star Daily Telegraph columnist Tom Utley has told Press Gazette that his impending move to the Daily Mail isn’t just about the money.
Utley, 52, is leaving the Telegraph after a decade. He is third-generation Telegraph and his father, TE Utley, spent 20 years there where, according to the Encyclopaedia of the British Press, he "gained a reputation as ‘the most distinguished Conservative journalist of his generation’".
Utley has followed in his footsteps as a leader writer. And his Friday columns have a libertarian right flavour, are often humorous and touch on domesticity, modern life, politics and his fondness for drinking and smoking.
In September, Utley gave an indication of his Telegraph salary in a column — a move which may have prompted Mail editor Paul Dacre’s recent offer.
Writing about news that the average GP earned £100,000, he said: "I would be very surprised to be told that more than 300 journalists in the entire country were paid more than £100,000 a year — and I assure you that I am not among them."
But he could well be in that category now. He told Press Gazette: "Of course I am very sad to be leaving The Daily Telegraph after so many years, but Paul Dacre’s flattering offer — not just money, but all-round welcoming — was not to be turned down."
Utley began his career on the Tavistock Times, going on to work on the East Anglian Daily Times, Liverpool Echo, Financial Times, Sunday Express and Sunday Telegraph.
He said: "I have served, I think, 14 editors — to the satisfaction, I hope, of most. I’m not conscious of having adapted my writing style to suit different audiences over the years — but I guess that we all do that subconsciously.
"Paul Dacre has told me, very kindly, that he doesn’t want me to change the tone of my writing a bit."
Utley revealed that in addition to his strong Telegraph family connections, he also has a dynastic link to the Daily Mail — his maternal grandfather, Dermot Morrah, started his career there in the 1920s.
Utley is to write leaders and a weekly column for the Mail and has yet to finalise a leaving date.
His departure from the Telegraph follows Telegraph Group’s poaching of Mail political columnist Simon Heffer in September to become a twice-weekly columnist and associate editor.