The BBC has apologised to the Daily Mail and its editor Paul Dacre after a series of news bulletins wrongly stated the newspaper’s journalists were implicated in the phone-hacking scandal.
The 1am, 2am and 3am news bulletins aired yesterday on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service carried reports about Dacre’s announcement that he will step down as editor later this year which linked the newspaper to the phone-hacking scandal in 2011.
News Group Newspapers, publishers of the News of the World and the Sun, and Mirror Group Newspapers have paid out to victims of phone-hacking.
But there has never been any suggestion any Daily Mail reporters were involved in the scandal.
The BBC apologised in the three equivalent news bulletins at 1am, 2am and 3am this morning.
The apology, which came at the end of each five-minute bulletin, said: “Last night’s news bulletin included a report of Paul Dacre’s decision to step aside as editor of the Daily Mail, an influential British newspaper, after 26 years.
“It wrongly stated that in 2011 a number of Daily Mail journalists were implicated in a phone-hacking scandal. We accept that this is not true and apologise to Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail.”
On Wednesday Dacre announced he will step back from day-to-day editorial responsibilities of the Daily Mail to take on broader roles as chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, which also publishes the Mail on Sunday and Metro newspapers and Mail Online.
Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere described Dacre as the “greatest Fleet Street editor of his generation” in a message to staff.
In Dacre’s opening remarks to the Leveson Inquiry in 2011, he “unequivocally” condemned phone-hacking and payments to the police.
“Such practices are a disgrace and have shocked and shamed us all,” he said.
“They need to be purged from journalism and reforms instigated to prevent such criminal activities ever happening again.”
He added: “I’d also today like to persuade you that there are thousands of decent journalists in Britain who don’t hack phones, don’t bribe policemen and who work long anti-social hours for modest recompense – and if they’re in the regional press often for a pittance – because they passionately believe that their papers give voice to the voiceless and expose the misdeeds of the rich, the powerful and the pompous.”
Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville