Yelland and Blair at his Sun leaving party
Now that he is leaving News Corporation for a job in public relations, former Sun editor David Yelland admits that he was “not a natural tabloid editor”.
In his five years in the chair of Britain’s biggest daily, Yelland said he agonised over his decisions.
“To be a really great tabloid editor you have to be somebody who just goes with it and says ‘I don’t care’. I did care “, he told Press Gazette.
“That job is probably one of the most important in the country and I happen to be very proud of my record at The Sun in terms of liberalising the paper. The sale was higher when I left than when I started.”
He is even magnanimous to his former foe, exDaily Mirror editor Piers Morgan. Their quarrels were public and bitter.
“I do regret the personal battle we had,” Yelland said. “In retrospect, we were both working for very powerful companies and we were like the guys running up the beach on D-Day, taking all the flak. We probably went over the top. He did and I probably did as well.”
He is even sorry about Morgan’s going.
“Trinity Mirror should not have marched Piers out of the door like that. He deserved better. The senior team have been dining out on Piers (stories).
Victor Blank (Trinity Mirror chairman) is a man I respect a lot but the fact that he was quite happy to live in the reflected glory of Piers and then when times got tough … When you think about what happened to me and what happened to him, it says a lot about Rupert Murdoch.”
Yelland, 41, swaps his Times business column for the job of a senior vice-chairman at Weber Shandwick on 1 July. His decision to switch to PR came about when he realised he was “extremely marketable”.
He said: “I think I am going to be very good at it. The Harvard experience (he returned to the USA after leaving The Sun to do an MBA at Harvard) changed the way I looked at the world.
One thing I am good at is dealing with people at a senior level and that job (The Sun) has given me total understanding of how the country works.”
His twin passions of business and politics were well represented at his Sun leaving party.
Guests included Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, the Israeli and American ambassadors, the head of MI5 and at least 20 FTSE chief executives.
He promises he will not be totally on the other side of the fence when he joins Shandwick: “I am not going to be ringing up journalists on deadline time trying to get them not to run stories.”
Next week: Full Yelland interview
By Jean Morgan