- Legendary Daily Mail Editor Paul Dacre is being lined up to be the boss of TV regulator Ofcom
- But the government may not know that his glittering CV has been blotted by allegations of industrial-scale criminal news gathering
- Byline Investigates has published over 50 stories exposing phone hacking at the Mail, which the bosses deny
- His papers spent a million plus pounds on private investigators, which Mail journalists tasked to do illegal checks
- Now, the Secretary of State can read our letter, and make his own mind up
By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
BYLINE INVESTIGATES has sent a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about allegations of phone hacking at Paul Dacre’s newspapers.
Dacre – who is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday – is being lined up to run Ofcom, the TV regulator.
However, the Fleet Street veteran may have omitted to mention on his CV that his papers were involved in industrial scale unlawful information gathering under his stewardship.
Byline Investigates has revealed evidence of voicemail interception, obtaining phone bills by deception and ‘blagging’ medical records from hospitals and rehab clinics.
A copy of the letter, that we have sent to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has been reproduced here, and you can click on the links to the specific stories that we have brought to his attention.
Oliver Dowden was made Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport last year.
However, his boss Boris Johnson – a former hack who knows Dacre from his newspaper days – is believed to be the Associated News Chairman’s sponsor, pushing for his appointment in the corridors of power.
But the Prime Minister is said to be meeting some resistance within government circles, and there has been a delay in setting a date.
The permanent appointment to the Ofcom chair has been on hold since early last year, when economist Lord Burns stood down.
Businesswoman and racecourse boss Maggie Carver has filled the role on an interim basis.
The prospect of Dacre regulating broadcasting sparked alarm within some parts of the television industry, and in the wider media.
Critics believe that Dacre’s appointment would form part of a wider conspiracy to curb the BBC, run down the licence fee and rid the corporation of perceived left-wing bias, which his right-leaning newspapers have campaigned for.
However, nothing has been said of the more serious allegations of phone hacking.
The allegations are not only grave in their own right, but may pose a bigger risk to Dacre in the form of a potential criminal prosecution.
In 2011, Mr Dacre categorically denied on oath to the Leveson Inquiry that phone hacking took place at his newspapers.
The Leveson Inquiry was set-up to look into press abuses following the phone hacking scandal, which saw the closure of the News of The World in July of that year.
At least two convicted phone hackers, Glenn Mulcaire and Greg Miskiw – who hacked for the News of The World – have since admitted to supplying the Mail on Sunday with similar transcripts of voicemails, contradicting Dacre’s sworn denials.
Giving wrong or distorted evidence to a Public Inquiry is a criminal offence-which is regarded as being easier to prove than perjury – under the Inquiries Act 2005, punishable by up to 51 weeks in jail.
Dacre tried to sue Byline at the beginning of our investigation, however his Letter Before Action was quickly seen off, in the face of overwhelming documentary evidence of ‘blagging.’
Last week, the Mail on Sunday lost a legal battle with Meghan Markle after a High Court judge ruled that a letter she had sent to her father Thomas Markle was private and should not have been published.
Yesterday, the Observer revealed that a senior journalist with a leading role in Rupert Murdoch’s Times group of British newspapers had been given a key voice in deciding who is to chair Ofcom.
Paul Potts, an independent director of Times Newspapers Holdings, is now also the government’s “senior independent panel member” who will help pick a candidate, the Guardian-owned Sunday paper claimed.