The editor-in-chief of the Daily and Sunday Express has admitted some of his paper’s previous front pages have been “downright offensive”.
Giving evidence to the House of Commons home affairs select committee, Gary Jones admitted some of the publication’s stories had contributed to an “Islamophobic sentiment” within the media.
Jones took over at the helm of the papers last month, having previously edited the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People and promised he was “making changes”.
“I’ve gone through a lot of former Express front pages and I’ve felt very uncomfortable looking at them,” he told MPs.
“There have been accuracy issues on some of them, and some of them are just downright offensive and I wouldn’t want to be party to any newspaper that would publish such material.”
The committee, which is conducting an inquiry into hate crime, asked Fleet Street bosses how much responsibility they felt they had in tackling Islamophobia.
The Express, along with other publications, has faced criticism in the past, including claims it helps to “radicalise people against Islam”, particularly following an attack on Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park, London last year.
Jones said that while he expected people to have “different views to my own”, it was his duty to ensure accuracy and fairness.
“I think each and every editor has a responsibility for every single word that’s published,” he said.
“And yes, cumulatively, some of the [Express] headlines that have appeared in the past have created an Islamophobic sentiment which I find uncomfortable.
“It is my responsibility to ensure that content is accurate and newspapers don’t look at stereotypical views that may or may not be around in the general public.
“I should be held to account and answerable.”
Other editors, including Trinity Mirror’s Lloyd Embley, said it was important to preserve the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
“There are several examples of things I personally would not like or find offensive,” he added.
“It’s important that I read things with which I fundamentally disagree, things I do not like and things which offend me.
“We have got to be careful because freedom of speech and freedom of expression are pillars of our democratic system.”