The Daily Mail’s publisher, Associated Newspapers, has condemned the use of phone-hacking and claimed that The Daily Mail needs to be 'gossipy' to attract a large audience.
And the publisher’s counsel, Jonathan Caplan , yesterday told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that “so far as it is aware no journalist at Associated Newspapers has engaged in phone-hacking” and claimed that middle-market titles such as the Daily Mail needed ..“to be gossipy and sensational if they are to attract large circulations”.
In his opening remarks to the inquiry, Caplan claimed: “It [Associated Newspapers] does not bribe police officers and, in particular, it condemns the shameful practice of hacking the mobile phones of the victims of crime, or of their families.”
His disavowal came the day after The Sun and the Daily Mirror appeared to be implicated in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal when it emerged in evidence to the inquiry that notes seized from disgraced private investigator Glenn Mulcaire contained one apparent reference each to both newspapers.
Caplan defended celebrity and entertainment stories - claiming they helped make the newspaper commercially viable.
“The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday are commercially successful precisely because they connect with their readership and their values.
“And that readership will stop buying those newspapers if they feel that they cannot trust its integrity or its accuracy.
“Newspapers are held to account every day by their readers, and it’s their readership’s tastes and attitudes and whether they’re met or not that determine the commercial viability of a newspaper.”
Caplan explained that middle-market titles such as the Daily Mail needed “to be gossipy and sensational if they are to attract large circulations.
“Stories about celebrities and the course of human relationships are a part of that attraction, and they do enable space to be provided elsewhere in the newspaper for more serious articles providing analysis and comment about perhaps more important issues to the day.
“The aim is to both entertain and critically to engage.”
He added: “We must also remember that we live in a country which is one of the major centres of the arts and entertainment industries.
“Many people have become celebrities and gone from relative obscurity to international fame and wealth because of the vibrant press which we have here, which has been able to capture the imagination of its readership through stories about their personal lives which are usually informative as opposed to being intrusive.”
Caplan also claimed that press standards had vastly improved over the last 20 years under the Press Complaints Commission and its editors' code of practice.