Yelland in farewell tribute to Murdoch

Yelland with Sun’s “most dangerous man in Britain”?

Former Sun editor David Yelland has described News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch as “the most purposely misunderstood man in Britain and around the world because what he has achieved is beyond anything else anyone else has ever achieved”.

At his farewell party on Tuesday, Yelland told his former colleagues: “Everybody at The Sun should be very proud of that. Remember that every time you are attacked, every time they have a go at you – you are the best, you work for the best.”

It was to the team which had worked with him for the past five years that Yelland paid equal tribute. “All I can say is you are the absolute best. I have been around the world a bit but I will never work with a better or more talented group of people than you,” he said. “You need to be told that occasionally because you do work so hard. I was proud to be editor of The Sun.”

He recalled that in that position, “you are in there with the big players of your time, you get to know all the people of your era and that’s something no one can ever take away from you”.

Those big players were at Yelland’s farewell party: Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, former Tory leader William Hague, Peter Mandelson MP, Trinity Mirror chairman Sir Victor Blank, Associated Newspapers managing director Murdoch MacLennan and Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond. Editors and ex-editors mingled with Sun staffers at the party before Yelland left for a new phase of his life in News Corp management.

One of the things he was most proud of was, he said, looking around at some of his guests, was that he ultimately became almost friends with many of the people that he attacked.

He recalled lampooning Hague’s party as a dead parrot, and the headline “‘Is this the most dangerous man in Britain?” over a picture of Blair.

“I even got quite close to the Blairs. I admired what he did on a personal level,” said Yelland.

His executive chairman, Les Hinton, congratulated him on “a tumultuous and triumphant five years”.

It had taken Yelland’s fierce intelligence and a sure hand to produce “that deceptively tricky daily mixture of the serious and the entertaining”, said Hinton.

Yelland’s successor, Rebekah Wade, and his former deputy, now hers, Fergus Shanahan gave him the traditional front page. Instead of the Blair headline, the splash was: “Is this the most dangerous man in News Corp?”

By Jean Morgan

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