Back Issues 24.06.05

JUNE 1970


The Battle of El Vino’s

It was the battle of El Vino’s as 30 women journalists protested at
rules that banned them from standing or buying drinks at the bar of the
famous Fleet Street watering hole. The demo was planned by Sun feature
writer Unity Hall and medical correspondent Christine Pickard. They
sent a circular around Fleet Street offices instructing supporters: “We
all remain sweetly and femininely reasonable, but do not move to the
back or sit down. If refused drinks, stand there and smoke. Bring any
other supporters.”

However, when they got to El Vino’s they found the door padlocked by
managing director Christopher Mitchell and when the protesters tried to
get in, fighting started. Press Gazette reported: “Mitchell was struck
several times and his assistant, Geoffrey Van-Hay, had his stiff collar
pulled.” Hall said: “It all got rather out of hand and I am rather
unhappy about it. We gathered outside at one o’clock to find the doors
barred. We were told ‘we are not serving ladies today’.

Then the
punching started. There was a lot of rough stuff.” Mitchell remained
unmoved. “The custom started with my grandfather in 1879 and I think it
would be fatal to alter it,” he said. In fact, the ban was dropped and
El Vino’s survived.

The Battle of Fleet Street

Fleet Street was in the grip of a total shutdown after members of
print union SOGAT went on strike in support of a 25 per cent pay claim.
Proprietors, including Rupert Murdoch and Lord Drogheda, managing
director of the Financial Times, were called to crisis meetings at 10
Downing Street. The Evening News in London printed giant posters
reassuring readers: “We miss you too”. In the first four days of the
strike 14.5 million copies of national newspapers had been lost.

Astor goes weak at the knees

Observer editor David Astor had agreed to drop a letter criticising
trade union practices on national newspapers after SOGAT halted
production. The letter had accused Fleet Street employers of being “a
bunch of weak-kneed managements”. Asked whether he felt The Observer’s
decision was “weak-kneed”, Astor replied: “Yes I think that a perfectly
justifiable criticism.”

From the Lamb…

Larry Lamb, editor
of the “new” Sun, was speaking six months after the relaunch of the
paper under Rupert Murdoch. The paper had confounded the pundits by
doubling its circulation. Lamb, in a speech to the IPR, said of the
paper’s editorial style: “No topic is banned in The Sun unless we think
it is boring. A journalist can commit no greater crime than to bore his
reader. But there are ways of writing that are banned. Ways that raise
a suggestive snigger. Ways that are pompous. Ways that imply any sort
of deference to what we call, for want of a better term, ‘the
Establishment’.” Lamb predicted: “There is no doubt that the Seventies
are going to be a most stimulating decade in British journalism. We at
The Sun intend to continue to provide the major stimulus.”

… to the Slaughter

Audrey Slaughter, former editor of IPC’s Honey and Petticoat magazines had been appointed editor of Vanity Fair.

War reporters warned: it could be dangerous

Confirmation of the deaths in Cambodia of CBS journalists George
Syversten and Gerald Miller had prompted US newsdesks to order
correspondents covering the war in South East Asia not to take
unnecessary risks.

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