The Daily Mail’s long-standing editor Paul Dacre is to step down later this year, it has been confirmed.
Dacre, one of Fleet Street’s most powerful figures and its longest-serving editor, will become editor-in-chief and chairman of Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers and Mail Online website.
The move will see him “step back” from his role as editor of the Daily Mail from November, on his 70th birthday, the paper’s owners DMGT have said.
Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere described Dacre as the “greatest Fleet Street editor of his generation” in a message to staff.
Sources suggested a replacement as editor would be named in the coming days.
Over his career, the journalist has been a divisive figure in British public life, praised widely for the paper’s campaign for justice over the Stephen Lawrence murder but criticised by some for vilifying immigrants and families on welfare.
Of late, the paper has been stridently pro-Brexit, and caused anger for a series of provocative front pages that labelled MPs “traitors” and judges “enemies of the people”.
In a letter to staff, Dacre said his new role would see him “endeavour to ensure that our company remains at the absolute forefront of a rapidly changing industry”.
The journalist vowed to maintain his fight against statutory regulation of the press and for freedom of expression, a “battle” he described as on-going.
The full statement from Dacre said:
“After 28 years as an editor 26 of them at the Mail — I have decided to step back from the responsibilities of day-to-day editing by my 70th birthday in November in order to take on broader challenges within the company as Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Associated.
“I’m announcing this now in order to facilitate the handover to a new team. It is a joy to work for Lord Rothermere.
“He has given me two things that to an editor are worth more than all the riches of Araby: the freedom to edit without interference and the backing to assemble Fleet Street’s greatest team of journalists.
“It’s this extraordinary team’s tireless efforts that increased the Mail’s circulation by nearly a million copies in a declining market and made Saturday’s Mail Britain’s biggest selling paper.
“It’s this team that launched the Scottish and Irish Daily Mails, Metro, which is now the top circulation UK week-day paper, and Mail Online which, under Martin Clarke, has become the world’s No 1 English-language newspaper website. During these years, thousands of jobs in our industry were created.
“It’s this team who have been behind our countless successful campaigns. Whether it has been justice for Stephen Lawrence and the Omagh bomb victims, plastic in supermarkets and in the seas, Dignity for the Elderly, thwarting Labour’s plans for super casinos, or putting sepsis and prostate cancer on the map, we have shown that newspapers make a difference.
“Without the Mail, Gary McKinnon, Shaker Aamer and Marine A would probably be in jail and Afghan British Army translators, whose lives are now at risk, would not have the chance to live here.
“And, finally, it’s this team that’s spearheaded the battle for freedom of expression against those who seek to impose statutory regulation of the press. This battle is on-going and I plan to continue playing as great a part in it as ever.
“In the meantime, my heartfelt gratitude to everyone — journalists, management, circulation reps and printers — who have made Associated one of the most successful newspaper groups in the world.
“It has been a privilege to work with you all and I look forward to continuing to do so in my new role in which I will endeavour to ensure that our company remains at the absolute forefront of a rapidly changing industry.”
Reaction was instant on social media:
These are some of the most famous Mail front pages during his reign:
DMGT said in a statement: “DMGT, the consumer media and business information group, today announces that Paul Dacre has been appointed chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers with effect from October 1 2018. After 28 years as an editor, Paul has decided to step back from day to day editorial responsibilities in November 2018.
“Paul’s appointment is being announced now to facilitate handover to the new editor of the Daily Mail, who will be named in due course. Paul will also step down as a board director of DMGT prior to the end of the financial year.”
Lord Rothermere, chairman of DMGT, said: “I would like to put on record my and DMGT’s gratitude to Paul Dacre for his brilliant stewardship of the Mail and other titles within the Group over three decades.
“Paul is, quite simply, the greatest Fleet Street editor of his generation not only for his huge circulation successes on both the Mail and Standard but also for the sheer power of his many campaigns, investigations and crusades that have held power to account, given a voice to the voiceless and often set the political agenda through six prime ministerships. He has done this while working tirelessly to defend press freedom to the benefit of our whole industry.
“I am absolutely delighted that Paul has agreed to continue to stay on after his 70th birthday as chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers in addition to advising me and taking on other broader responsibilities in the company at a time of profound upheaval in the media landscape.”