Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Media
19 July 2011

How Brooks tried to “destroy the Daily Mail“

Murdoch to Dacre: "We are not going to be the only bad dog on the street."

By Samira Shackle

Rebekah Brooks spearheaded a strategy designed to implicate other British newspapers in the phone-hacking scandal, according to the New York Times. Based on a series of interviews with former News International staff, the newspaper claims that Brooks asked News of the World journalists to find evidence of hacking by other papers.

The paper reports that Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, told senior managers that he had been told by PR agencies, businessmen and footballers that executives at News International had urged them to look into whether their phones had been hacked by journalists working for the Mail group. It even suggests that Murdoch himself warned Dacre to be careful:

At a private meeting, Rupert Murdoch warned Paul Dacre, the editor of the rival Daily Mail newspaper and one of the most powerful men on Fleet Street, that “we are not going to be the only bad dog on the street,” according to an account that Mr. Dacre gave to his management team. Mr. Murdoch’s spokesman did not respond to questions about his private conversations.

According to the report, Dacre confronted Brooks at a hotel after hearing that she was targeting his paper, saying:

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

You are trying to tear down the entire industry.

In another incident, Lady Claudia Rothermere, the wife of the owner of the Mail, is said to have overheard Brooks say at a dinner party that the Mail was just as blameworthy as the News of the World:

“We didn’t break the law,” Lady Rothermere said, according to two sources with knowledge of the exchange. Ms. Brooks asked who Lady Rothermere thought she was, “Mother Teresa?”

Given that the Daily Mail is widely expected to gain the most from the demise of the News of the World, it is safe to say the strategy didn’t work (nor did Brooks’ apparent wish to take down the Guardian). However, in a story with so many twists and turns, it is not inconceivable to imagine that other newspapers will yet be drawn into the scandal. Dacre — live in fear.