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Ex-Daily Mail editor defends newspaper’s decision to describe judges as ‘enemies of the people’

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‘The point needed to be made’, says Paul Dacre

Paul Dacre

The former editor of the Daily Mail has defended the newspaper’s decision to describe three prominent members of the judiciary as “enemies of the people” following the High Court’s decision in the Miller case.

The High Court ruled in November 2016 that the lawful invocation of Article 50 was conditional on a free vote in parliament. Hours later the Daily Mail ran a story in which it claimed the court’s decision deliberately blocked Brexit. The story’s headline described the three judges who heard the case — Lord Thomas, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lord Justice Sales — as “enemies of the people”.

Now, Paul Dacre, who stood down as editor earlier this summer, has defended the newspaper’s controversial headline. Speaking at the Society of Editors Conference in Manchester, Dacre said the newspaper “should have the freedom to write a headline about judges being the enemy of the people”.

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He went on to say that his critics (including many lawyers) missed the fact the headline was a reference to a play written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Accepting that The Telegraph‘s headline, “The Judges Versus The People”, was “a tad more judicious”, Dacre continued:

“But what the hell. The point needed to be made. And it was the Mail’s headline, not the almost identical Telegraph one, that, as happens so often, put an issue on the agenda.”

The Daily Mail‘s criticism of the judiciary didn’t stop at the High Court. When the government took its appeal to the Supreme Court, the newspaper described the justices as “11 unaccountable individuals” and gave each of them a “Europhile rating” out of five. Several months later, and in an interview with BBC Radio 4, the now former Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger accused certain sections of the press of “undermining the rule of law”.

At the time of the original Daily Mail article, lawyers criticised the then Lord Chancellor Liz Truss for failing to adequately defend the judges involved. In an open letter to Truss (now chief secretary to the Treasury), 17 silks from One Crown Office Row said they were left “dismayed” by her “inadequate defence” of the judiciary.

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43 Comments

Anonymous

Ah yes, the renowned Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen – I’m sure a good proportion of the Daily Mail’s readership familiar with his extensive works and saw the reference as opposed to seeing the message that the judiciary is a bad thing.

Such a stupid argument that just shows how out of touch this person is, it doesn’t matter what the critics are saying, it’s what the readers think after seeing a headline like that!

The Daily Mail are the true enemies of the people.

Anonymous

Cry me a river mate – the importance of a free press lies in its unfettered ability to criticise any person or institution. Neither lawyers nor the judiciary are specially exempt from this.

Anonymous

You just side-lined and ignored the argument I was making and then spouted off about freedom of press and how those in the legal profession think they are above others.

You’re either an actual shill trying to prevent any meaningful discourse about the fact that this man is a snake and that our press is owned by those with the deepest pockets. Or, you’re a legal recruiter without a clue.

Anonymous

Haha, you use the word shill? Are you a conspiracy theorist?

And I side-lined your pathetic little argument? Diddums.

Cry more, baby.

Anonymous

Get a life

Anonymous

OP comment poster from 12:20 07/11 here.

It’s kind of sad to see 6:14 07/11 so upset and angry that they’d try and troll that hard (still not ruling out shill). I guess it must be so frustrating just being alive when you are developmentally stunted to the point that you think attacking people’s vocabulary choice and saying mean words about an argument is an actual response.

Enjoy a life of obscurity mate, they’ll never understand you!

Liberturd Leftie

False equivalence, and I suspect you know that. No one disagrees that there must be a free press, it that does not absolve them of their responsibility to be fair and objective.

No right (free press of not) is unfettered. And if need be it must be checked. Effectively his answer was “yeah I did it, I take no responsibility for saying it, regardless if the paper attempts to compromise the rule of law.

His feeble attempt to align it with the Norwegian writes is laughable.

He should be ashamed… but of course he isnt, he and his paper believe they are a law unto themselves…

Anonymous

Why does the press need to be fair and objective? The headline was plainly an opinion.

As it happens I think it was a foolish opinion. But the Mail – and the Morning Star and the Little Didsbury Advertiser – all have, and should have, the right to express whatever opinions they like and to campaign for what they like.

I find Neuberger’s comment as misplaced as the Mail’s headline.

Anonymous

Yes, the Daily Mail should have the freedom to write what it wants. And it does – no one has sued or censored it over the headline. But having that freedom doesn’t mean that it has to be exempt from criticism. Others can point out that this is a misleading and irresponsible headline. There’s no contradiction here. It’s true both that I should say please and thank you when dealing with others *and* that I am within my legal rights not to do so. Why do people on the right equate criticism with censorship?

Anonymous

So what is the “responsibility to be fair and balanced” then? Good manners?

So what does this mean: “No right (free press of not) is unfettered. And if need be it must be checked.”?

What are the fetters? How is abuse of that responsibility (apparently only to express the ‘right’ opinion) “checked”?

Saying “I condemn the Mail’s headline” is not any sort of “check” or “fetter”. It’s just an opposing opinion.

Libeturd Leftie

No not manners good journalism.

It means if you chat sh!t, you get banged… understand that type of language? And getting banged could range from injunction, lower readership to more severe sanctions such as fines, if it is determined they have deliberately and defiantly engaged in offenses.

What is ironic, the same rags the rail against the rule of law hide behind it when it suits them.

Back at you…

Anonymous

Have you been drinking?

Anonymous

Yeh the Ibsen excuse is truly desperate. The playwright was ironically referring to himself as an enemy of the people because he had portrayed scandalous subjects onstage. The reference doesn’t make any sense in the context of the headline.

Anonymous

Daily Hate-Mail is the enemy of brown people!

Anonymous

Scum of the Earth.

Anonymous

We all bloody love a bit of the Sidebar of Shame with our Pret sandwichs at our desk though, dont we!

Anonymous

No – I would actually be embarrassed to be seen on DM at work.

Anonymous

Hear hear.

Anonymous

Ah. Forgot not everyone gets their own room. Enjoy open plan, worker bees.

Anonymous

Yep, there may be Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Kim Jong-un and Hassan Rouhani in the world, but the Daily Mail is the real scum, amirite?

Anonymous

“X and W are worse than Y, therefore Y isn’t a problem.” Fuck off, those are entirely separate issues. Paid shill or legal recruiter – can’t tell which.

Anonymous

What’s your problem with recruiters? Did you not get the 30% salary hike you think you deserve after pushing paper for 2 years?

Anonymous

Hahaha, I knew it! Legal recruiters and shoulder chips go like fish and actual chips.

Anonymous

You can read, right? The phrase “scum of the earth” suggests a person or group is the worst person or group on earth.

Anonymous

You know what irony is right?

Anonymous

What’s wrong with Hassan Rouhani, you dumb f*ck?

Do you even know who he is, putting him in the same bag as Kim Jong-Insane?

Anonymous

Found the apologist.

Anonymous

Sorry.

Anonymous

All the same

Anonymous

Private Eye told the real side of Dacre time and time again.

Anonymous

In summary the story is: Facist editor of facist newspaper holds fascist views. Why do we listen to him?

Anonymous

Hurrah for the Blackshirts!

Anonymous

He does realise that in ‘An Enemy of the People’, the character of Dr Stockmann (i.e. the judges in his analogy) was right all along and ‘the people’ were wrong?

Anonymous

This snapping and snarling bonehead has had a bit of time to ‘think’ and is now slopping out a a bare-faced lie that he hopes will make him sound clever and reasonable – something that no quarter-reasonable person is going to fall for.

Anonymous

In many ways many of them are.

Anonymous

VOTE LEAVE, TAKE CONTROL

WINNING

Anonymous

Man who thinks 2 plus 2 equals 5 maintains 2 plus 2 equals 5.

Anonymous

The CoA are even worse.

Anonymous

Dacre. A walking turd.

Anonymous

The conference was last week and the remarks were reported in the mainstream press last weekend (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/nov/04/paul-dacre-ex-daily-mail-liberal-brexit-hating-media-speech). Keep up.

The Faily Mail

Bring back hanging
Bring back caning
Immigrants- go home, please
Women- know your place
Gays- keep it quiet
Muslims- just get out
Black people- We’re not racist but…

Anonymous

Judges actually should be elected, then you wouldn’t have any of this nonsense in the first place, and we could all just enjoy Brexit and look forward to a better future for our country.

Libeturd Leftie

Re elected Judges, see the debacle happening in the US, and no I dont mean Kavanaugh.

Elected Judges brings its Owen inherent set of problems, like Justice depending on which party you belong too or represent.

There is no panacea, but unelected judges that have no “outward” political affiliation seems to be the right balance.

AND whey should judges be elected, if they are to be the check and balance against the Legislature.

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