Colin Myler, News of the World, was up in front of a House of Commons select committee today, as part of an inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel.
Unsurprisingly Myler and News Group Newspapers’ lawyer Tom Crone were questioned about the Max Mosley case – though, as a new writ has been issued against the paper by Mosley, some responses had to be curtailed.
Nevertheless, some good nuggets from Myler and Crone on the consequences of publishing the story and why the NOTW broke it:
- The costs of the Mosley trial came to around £900,000 with £100,000 damages, according to Crone.
“Mr Mosley made quite a case that he’d never sought publicity, that he was a private person. I disagree with that fundamentally.
“For a man in his position (…) who so wrecklessly put himself in the hands of five prostitutes (…) you have to say you played some part in your own downfall.”
- Myler: “Rarely in these situations are there any commercial benefits despite what people might think.”
- A family newspaper: “I don’t agree that it was an unsuitable story for a family newspaper. Some people might sneer and say that we are scurrilous and scaberous but we are who we are. I make no apologies for publishing that story as editor.
- Chilling effect of Mosley case? “I don’t think it’s had a chilling effect. It’s had a very practical effect on me as an editor and how you conduct yourself (…) I spend as much time talking to lawyers as I do journalists.
“It doesn’t mean to say that you shy away, it means that you have to be equally diligent, efficient and careful and get very good legal advice.”
Myler also went on to discuss the issue of ‘celebrity stings’ by the NOTW, saying that while journalist Mazher Mahmood was widely known as the ‘fake sheikh’, he is also ‘one of the most professional newspaper journalists in the world’.
“He has been responsible for convicting and jailing 232 criminals. This is a man that puts himself in great danger and does so with such a professional aplomb that any media organisation would be proud to be associated with it,” he said.
Mahmood’s talents, said Myler, as increasingly being used for stories on immigration and religious radicalism: “There is some serious journalism within the News of the World.”