Rothermere: 'I would not intervene if Mail wanted to legalise cannabis'

Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere today told the House of Lords that editor Paul Dacre could support the legalisation of cannabis in his paper and he would still not intervene in editorial matters.

And Trinity Mirror‘s chief executive Sly Bailey had some good news for Gordon Brown today when she told peers today that the Daily Mirror would continue to support Labour.

Appearing before the House of Lords Communications Committee, which is probing the impact of newspaper ownership on news, Bailey was asked whether the Mirror might, like the Sun in the 1990s, switch political allegiances.

Questioned today by Lord Fowler, chairman of the committee, as to whether the Mirror would follow the example of the Sun, which backed the Tories in 1992 but switched to Labour in 1997, she said: ‘Will the political positioning of the Daily Mirror change, no it won’t.”

She said that did not mean that Mirror editor Richard Wallace would not be ‘a critical friend”.

Lord Fowler commented: ‘I think we have established where you are going to be at the next election.”

Lord Rothermere, chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust, also giving evidence to the committee, said the board left it to editors to decide which political party they should support.

‘The board takes an interest in a newspaper’s stance but we let the editors edit the newspapers,’he said.

Lord Fowler asked: ‘If Paul Dacre changed the policy of the paper to legalising cannabis and in favour of joining the Euro – which I concede is an unlikely event – would the board not intervene at that point?”

Lord Rothermere provoked laughter from the peers when he told them: ‘I don’t believe this is extreme enough for us to be involved.”

When one peer suggested supporting Labour might provoke the board to intervene, Lord Rothermere appeared to assent.

But DMGT chief executive Charles Sinclair told peers: ‘Our papers in Associated have sometimes supported Labour. The Standard has been a consistent supporter of the Labour Party on London issues.”

He surprised peers by telling them that half the readers of the Daily Mail where Labour supporters.

Lord Rothermere said: ‘We chose our editors because we believe they have a strong understanding of the readership of the paper and what that readership wants to read.”

He said the companies’ policy was the same with the Northcliffe Media regional newspapers.

‘We leave the decision of which political party, if any, to support to the editors of regional newspapers to come to on their own.”

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