Ed Miliband urges Daily Mail owner to examine 'culture'

Ed Miliband and Lord Rothermere Ed Miliband (L) exchanged letters with Lord Rothermere over the Mail newspapers' coverage of his family

Related Stories

Newspaper owner Lord Rothermere must take a "long, hard look" at the "culture and practices" of his Mail titles, Ed Miliband has said.

The proprietor has apologised to Mr Miliband for a Mail on Sunday reporter intruding on a family memorial service.

The Labour leader told BBC Radio 5Live the apology was an "important step" but that he did not think his treatment was an isolated incident.

Mr Miliband said he wanted to know "how these practices are allowed to happen".

Last weekend, a Daily Mail article labelled Ralph Miliband, a Marxist academic who died in 1994, "the man who hated Britain".

'Line crossed'

That prompted Mr Miliband to complain about his father being "smeared", but although the newspaper offered him a right of reply, it has continued to defend its coverage.

In a separate incident on Thursday, the Mail on Sunday suspended two of its journalists after it emerged the paper had gate-crashed a service for the Labour leader's uncle, at which they pressed the family for reaction to the original Daily Mail article.

Quentin Letts: "He was furious that we won the Falklands war... is that the behaviour of a man who loves his country?"

Mr Miliband told 5Live Breakfast that Lord Rothermere "has a responsibility to take a long hard look" at the way his papers are run after the intrusion.

He said: "I hope what Lord Rothermere will do is look at the wider culture and practices at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday because I don't think it's an isolated incident.

"I'm interested in other families, not in public life, who've had similar experiences."

Mr Miliband said he expected the papers to criticise him and his policies but that they had "crossed a line" by accusing his father of hating Britain.

While acknowledging the Daily Mail - which has a circulation of more than 1.8 million - was a "popular" newspaper, he suggested many of its readers agreed with him that it had "overstepped the mark".

But he said he did not agree with the Jewish Chronicle's suggestion that there was "a whiff of anti-semitism" about the Daily Mail's Ralph Miliband articles.

Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig said the reporter had been sent without his knowledge and an investigation was being held into "a decision which was wrong".

Who is Lord Rothermere?

  • The 4th Viscount Rothermere - or Jonathan Harmsworth - inherited Associated Newspapers (now DMG Media) when his father Vere died in 1998
  • He became the fourth Rothermere to take the title and become chairman of the media group
  • He was previously managing editor of the Evening Standard, which the Rothermeres bought in 1980
  • Lord Rothermere is ranked 120th on the Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £720m
  • The Harmsworth brothers Alfred and Harold founded the Daily Mail in 1896 - the "Viscount Rothermere" title was created for Harold Harmsworth in 1919
  • Before WWII, Harold Harmsworth praised Adolf Hitler and in 1934 penned a Daily Mail article headlined "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" celebrating Oswald Mosley's British fascists

Both he and Lord Rothermere apologised "unreservedly", with the peer also writing to Mr Miliband.

'Ethical roots'

Neither Labour nor the Daily Mail and General Trust - the papers' parent company - have released the text of Lord Rothermere's response to Mr Miliband.

Mr Miliband told 5Live he has met the Daily Mail's editor Paul Dacre "two or three times" since becoming Labour leader.

He said: "My personal dealings with him have been absolutely professional. Sometimes we've disagreed about issues. We've disagreed about press standards but sometimes we've agreed on some issues."

The row comes days before a crucial meeting of MPs next Wednesday on press regulation.

They will consider proposals for a press royal charter with a new regulator to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

The plan is backed by the country's largest newspaper groups, including Mail publisher DMG Media, News UK, who own the Sun and the Times, Telegraph Media Group and Trinity Mirror.

Mr Miliband supports an alternative plan, backed by the three main political parties and press intrusion victims campaign group Hacked Off, for a form of press regulation backed by royal charter.

A senior Mail executive has defended the paper's journalistic methods, saying it was "extraordinarily careful" about how it pursued a story.

"I hear the the editor, I hear the deputy editor almost every day saying to reporters, saying to editors of their sections 'be careful how you go about getting a particular story'," City Editor Alex Brummer told Radio 4's Today.

'Useful idiot'

"That's a practice which goes to the core of the paper, and I do think there are some good ethical roots in the paper and this is the exception rather than the rule," he added.

On Thursday's Question Time on BBC One, the Daily Mail's political sketch writer Quentin Letts defended its original reporting of the views of Ralph Miliband, a Jewish refugee who fled Belgium aged 16 to escape the Nazis and who served in the Royal Navy during WWII.

Yvette Cooper: "I just think this is shocking, to decide to pursue and distort and twist the words of a father in order to pursue an attack on a son."

Mr Letts described the socialist academic as a "useful idiot" for "people that were promoting Marxism" during the Cold War.

Mr Letts added that Ralph Miliband had been "furious that we won the Falklands War. He wanted us to lose the Falklands War.

"Is that the behaviour of a man who loves his country? I'm not sure it is."

However, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, praising Ralph Miliband's military record, told the programme: "People who haven't served their country and fought for their country should really think before deciding that they have a monopoly on determining British values."

Meanwhile Ralph Miliband's biographer, Michael Newman, said the late academic "wanted a different kind of Britain" but "wasn't against Britain".

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More UK Politics stories


Politics Live

    09:38: Alexander on Marr

    Douglas Alexander refuses to be drawn on whether he will make a deal with SNP and Sinn Fein to from a majority government after the general elections. But he accuses the Conservatives of trying to "split the vote on the left" after they tweeted a mocked-up picture of Ed Miliband alongside SNP politician Alex Salmond and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, with the caption: "Your worst nightmare just got even worse."

    Labour has vowed not to feature Prime Minister David Cameron on its campaign billboards ahead of the general election.

    The Andrew Marr Show

    tweets: Alexander - Voting for the SNP in the general election will result in a Conservative government

    09:34: Alexander on Marr

    Douglas Alexander is pressed on the challenge facing Labour in Scotland, where Andrew Marr suggests his own seat is under pressure. "The polls are tough", Mr Alexander says, adding that he realises there is an appetite for change north of the border. But he says "I share that appetite for change" and adds: "The way we can secure that change is to deliver the maximum number of Labour MPs..."

    09:28: Alexander on Marr
    Douglas Alexander on The Andrew Marr Show

    Labour election strategist Douglas Alexander tells the Andrew Marr Show: "We face a challenge to secure a recovery that reaches beyond the city of London and reaches kitchen tables right around the country."

    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: first question to @NickyMorgan01 on @MarrShow is surely 'whats 12 x 12?'

    Robin is of course referencing the education secretary's "war on illiteracy and innumeracy" which state that all children in England will need to know up to their 12 times table when they leave primary school.

    Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour

    tweets: Some pointed advice from Andrew Rawnsley for Tony Blair - time to say whose side you are on.

    09:13: Papers on Marr
    Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton and impressionist Rory Bremner are doing the paper review to get The Andrew Marr Show under way

    Reviewing the newspapers on the Andrew Marr Show, impressionist Rory Bremner picks out the Observer's story on what it says is an acute shortage of beds for young mental health patients. This will be a "critical area" for the next government to get involved in, the comedian says. His fellow paper reviewer is Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton.

    Labour press team

    tweets: Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary @DAlexanderMP will be speaking to the @MarrShow this morning on @BBCTwo at 9am

    08:50: 'Back seat driving' The Independent
    The Independent on Sunday

    The Independent on Sunday claims former Education Secretary Michael Gove is still "back-seat driving" his old department and maintains a "shadowy influence" behind the back of his "more teacher-friendly" successor Mrs Morgan.

    The paper says the chief whip still receives paperwork related to Department for Education issues.

    08:44: New beds crisis
    The Observer

    The Observer leads on what it says is an acute shortage of beds for young mental health patients in the NHS.

    According to guidelines from NHS England, leaked to the Observer, 16 and 17-year olds, who should be admitted to specialist child adolescent mental health facilities (Camhs), are likely instead to be admitted to adult wards.

    08:41: 'War on illiteracy' Sunday Times
    Sunday Times

    The Sunday Times's top story (paywall) is Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's "war on illiteracy and innumeracy". The paper says she plans to remove head teachers from schools where 11-year-old pupils cannot pass tests on basic English and times tables.

    08:37: Miliband attacked The Daily Telegraph

    Ed Miliband has faced criticism from a leading business chief who said a Labour government would be a "catastrophe" for the UK.

    Stefano Pessina, acting chief executive of Boots, said in an interview with today's Sunday Telegraph that Mr Miliband's plans were "not helpful for business, not helpful for the country and in the end, it probably won't be helpful for them".

    He did not elaborate on which specific policies of the party he disliked but told the newspaper: "If they acted as they speak, it would be a catastrophe."

    08:33: Sunday papers

    It is a very mixed - and highly politicised - Sunday for headlines in the nationals. You can read the full write up from our online paper reviewers. But we'll also break it down into bite-sized chunks for you in the next few entries.

    08:28: Coming up

    A few must watch items for your Sunday morning:

    The Andrew Marr Show is at 09:00 when Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander will be on the sofa. You can watch via the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

    Sunday Politics, tennis permitting, at 11:00 will hear from Culture Secretary Sajid Javid and Labour MP Tom Watson. Again, watch live on this page.

    Other options for your Sunday morning political fix include Pienaar's Politics from 10:00 to 11:00 on BBC radio 5Live and we'll also bring you updates from the Murnaghan programme, over on Sky News from 10:00-12:00.

    And of course you may want to keep one eye on events in Melbourne too, where Andy Murray is taking on Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open tennis final. The BBC has live coverage here.

    08:20: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to Politics Live. Over the course of the next 10 hours we'll be bringing you all the news, views and analysis as it happens from the BBC's political team in text and video - including all the key moments from the Andrew Marr Show, Sunday Politics, the World This Weekend and reaction to the big Sunday newspaper stories. You can see how Friday, which was a Churchill remembered special, unfolded by clicking here.



Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Temperature remoteThe Travel Show Watch

    The remote to control the temperature of your shoes plus other travel gadgets reviewed

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.