UK
12/10/2013 11:28 BST | Updated 12/10/2013 11:32 BST

Mail Editor Paul Dacre Launches Stinging Attack On BBC And Guardian

The bitter war of words between the Mail and the Guardian over press freedom, morality and secrecy has seen the BBC sucked into the debate, with the Mail editor accusing the BBC being part of a left-wing war against his paper.

Paul Dacre has spoken publicly for the first time since the paper sparked controversy by examining the Marxist views of Ralph Miliband under the headline "the man who hated Britain".

"Leading the charge, inevitably, was the Mail's bête noir, the BBC. Fair-minded readers will decide themselves whether the hundreds of hours of airtime it devoted to that headline reveal a disturbing lack of journalistic proportionality and impartiality – but certainly the one-sided tone in their reporting allowed Labour to misrepresent Geoffrey Levy's article on Ralph Miliband," he said.

paul dacre

Paul Dacre, editor of The Daily Mail

Writing in the Mail and Guardian newspapers, Dacre said the "collective hysteria" over the essay by Geoffrey Levy had highlighted why statutory press regulation should not be introduced, as the Government and newspaper industry remained deadlocked over the latest proposals to regulate press standards.

"Some have argued that last week's brouhaha shows the need for statutory press regulation," Dacre wrote. "I would argue the opposite.

"The febrile heat, hatred, irrationality and prejudice provoked by last week's row reveals why politicians must not be allowed anywhere near press regulation.

"And while the Mail does not agree with the Guardian over the stolen secret security files it published, I suggest that we can agree that the fury and recrimination the story is provoking reveals again why those who rule us - and who should be held to account by newspapers - cannot be allowed to sit in judgment on the press."

"As the week progressed and the hysteria increased, it became clear that this was no longer a story about an article on Mr Miliband's Marxist father but a full-scale war by the BBC and the left against the paper that is their most vocal critic."

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The BBC said in a statement: "We completely reject any suggestion that our reporting has been biased. We followed the story as it unfolded and ensured both sides had the chance to express their views.

"As a public broadcaster, we have a responsibility to report the news without fear or favour, providing balanced information and independent analysis, allowing our audiences to make up their own minds."

Miliband was given the right to reply to the Daily Mail's essay on his father, who died in 1994, but the newspaper accompanied his piece with an editorial accusing the left-wing thinker of leaving an "evil legacy".

Dacre said his newspaper had not suggested Ralph Miliband was "evil", only that the political beliefs he espoused had resulted in evil, and that, as a Marxist, he was "committed to smashing the institutions that make Britain distinctively British".

He wrote: "Yes, the Mail is happy to accept that in his personal life, Ralph Miliband was, as described by his son, a decent and kindly man - although we won't withdraw our view that he supported an ideology that caused untold misery in the world.

"Yes, we accept that he cherished this country's traditions of tolerance and freedom - while, in a troubling paradox typical of the left, detesting the very institutions and political system that made those traditions possible.

"And yes, the headline was controversial - but popular newspapers have a long tradition of using provocative headlines to grab readers' attention. In isolation that headline may indeed seem over the top, but read in conjunction with the article we believed it was justifiable."

The Daily Mail has refused to apologise for the article on Miliband's father, but its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday, said sorry after a reporter gatecrashed a private family memorial service for Mr Miliband's uncle.