Express returns fire at Dacre in venomous battle

Dacre: Express boss is "appalling"

By Jean Morgan

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s resounding character assassination of Express Newspapers proprietor Richard Desmond has officially brought no response from Ludgate House.

Unofficially, it is being mooted by those close to Desmond that, while he is always happy to engage in debate with other proprietors, he will not respond to the "envious tittle-tattle" of the editors of rival publications.

No response, however, seemed an unlikely comeback for a man as volatile as Desmond and by Tuesday "Frank Bailey" (the house name for Anil Bhoyrul) was slamming back in the Daily Express at Dacre’s style of editorship.

Dacre, in an interview with British Journalism Review’s new editor Bill Hagerty, called Desmond a "pornographer, an appalling man" who is "bad for British journalism".

He said the sale of the Express titles to Desmond had been "one of the shaming moments during my career in Fleet Street" and denigrated Tony Blair for accepting a donation from Desmond for the Labour Party – marking "a new low in public life".

"As long as I have energy in my body, I’m going to devote everything to try to see him off," Dacre vowed.

Bailey’s article accused the Mail of stirring racial tensions, stating: "If you are black, Jewish, disabled, a single parent or socialist at heart, in Dacre’s world you have no place in modern British society."

He claimed Dacre’s financial advice to Lord Rothermere on investing in the internet had lost the company £30m and said: "Thanks in part to Dacre’s ideas, the value of Rothermere’s company, DMGT, has fallen by half a billion pounds in three months."

Desmond is said to view "the venomous outpourings" of Dacre as no coincidence when ABC figures have revealed the fifth month-on-month rise in circulation for the Daily Express. This take on Dacre’s onslaught is thought to have been boosted by the fact that for the first time since Desmond took over the titles, the Mail has not made a contemptuous mention of its rival in the blurb celebrating its sales successes.

The big question is whether Desmond will resume his attack on Lord Rothermere – which resulted in a pact that Associated’s newspapers would not to refer to him in their columns as a pornographer.

Bailey’s tirade ended with the warning: "More news from the Rothermere camp soon."

The only reaction from the Dacre camp was "hollow laughter", said his spokesman Robin Esser. "We are not trembling in our boots."

The Mail’s August sales were 2,439,394, up 0.93 per cent – the best August figures since records began 70 years ago, said the Mail. The Daily Express sold 1,026,698, up 3.41 per cent – the first time it has been back over 1 million since December 2000.

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