The Mail on Sunday appeared to pour cold water on Saturday’s Daily Mail front page account of its role in the rescue of explorer Benedict Allen from the jungle in Papua New Guinea.
The Daily Mail ran with the headline “Rescued!” on Saturday’s front page and said: “Mail saves malaria-hit British explorer from jungle as he is caught between warring tribes”.
The paper said it had chartered a helicopter to find the missing adventurer, after he failed to show up for a flight to Hong Kong on Remembrance Sunday, and found him on Thursday last week.
“When the Mail finally found him… it was immediately clear that everyone’s worst fears were well-founded. For Benedict was fast giving up hope of ever seeing his young family again after finding himself caught up in a tribal war and struck down by malaria,” said the paper.
“Benedict might still be there now were it not for a rescue mission by the Daily Mail which involved hiring a helicopter and airlifting the stricken explorer from a war-torn and very remote area of PNG.”
A picture of Allen, who has made programmes for the BBC, with reporter Sam Greenhill handing him the satellite phone in Papua New Guinea was included in the Daily Mail’s coverage.
But, the Mail on Sunday yesterday carried a report from the helicopter pilot who flew Allen out of the jungle claiming the explorer “didn’t need rescuing”.
“We don’t go in and rescue people,” the pilot told the paper. “It wasn’t as if he was in mortal danger. It was just that his travel plans were stuck… He wouldn’t have been starving. There was water. He was looked after.”
The Mail on Sunday said it had seen emails from the British High Commission, once Allen’s location was known, seeking costings from commercial helicopter operators rather than requesting an urgent evacuation.
But, the story also included a quote from a spokesperson for Allen who said: “By the time the helicopter arrived he was quite ill with a renewed bout of malaria. So actually he did need rescuing, and I’m very glad he was.”
Both articles have been published by Mail Online.
The Daily Mail today ran a story claiming Allen had made a “video will” fearing the malaria he had contracted would kill him.
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre is also editor-in-chief of Mail on Sunday publisher DMG media.
The Mail on Sunday is edited by former Tatler and Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig.
While Dacre backed Brexit in the Daily Mail, Greig urged his readers to vote Remain.