Back Issues 06.02.03

Love nest raided

In Fleet Street, dog was eating dog. The Mail on Sunday caught Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie as he shared a Barbados “love-nest” with a News International secretary. The freelance commissioned by The MoS to doorstep MacKenzie, on the paradise island in the Caribbean, was US-based Ron Laytner.

He took on the assignment against the advice of his wife, Linda. She told Press Gazette: “I told Ron it was the end of his career. He was only given the job because nobody else would dare do it.”

But Laytner said: “When I eventually cornered Kelvin, I found him to be a very charming and honest guy.”

MacKenzie had, only a month before, told a Commons select committee that nobody, absolutely nobody, in the public eye should complain when their private lives attract media attention.

McQueen: the great escapade

The Sun trapped Daily Mirror news desk assistant Alistair McQueen into making an unflattering remark about Mirror boss David Montgomery and published it.

The newspaper then put the interview tape on a premium phone line, provoking outrage at The Mirror, where McQueen was demoted to reporter.

“There is fury here towards The Sun for the low-down, dirty way it turned him over,” one Mirror journalist told Press Gazette.

One is so sorry

The Sun said it was sorry – to the Queen. The paper apologised for printing the text of the Queen’s Christmas Day speech two days early. The Queen had threatened a copyright action against the newspaper. The Sun complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the way the Mirror had covered the story.

Miles better than the rest

Bauer’s Take a Break, edited by Lori Miles, became the UK’s top selling women’s title with an ABC of 1,432,764. There was bad news though for London’s City Limits. The magazine folded, with 30 staff losing their jobs.

Major relief

Prime Minister John Major sued the New Statesman and Scallywag magazines after they reported the rumours that he was having an affair with caterer Clare Latimer.

The press was relieved that Major had sued rather than going through the Press Complaints Commission at a time when it was under pressure from the highly critical Calcutt Review.

The big vat concern

The big fear for the regional press was that VAT would be imposed on newspapers by the Chancellor, Norman Lamont. A Newspaper Society report claimed it would cost thousands of jobs and close hundreds of titles.

An autobiography by former Chancellor Nigel Lawson revealed he came close to introducing the tax in the mid-1980s, but was persuaded not to by Margaret Thatcher. “Look, Nigel,” she said, “this is a wonderful budget – we should get a wonderful reception. We don’t want to spoil that by putting VAT on newspapers.”

Editorship number five

Richard Stott was appointed editor of Today. It was his fifth Fleet Street editorship. He had previously edited the Daily Mirror twice and The People twice.

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