Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
28 APRIL 2009
Q720 Chairman: There has not been
a decline in the number of journalists.
Mr Hill: Yes, there has been a
small reduction in the number of journalists but we have had to
make economies because of the economic situation. All newspapers
are having to make these economies.
Q721 Chairman: The figures I have
seen suggest that there has been a massive decline in numbers.
Mr Hill: What figures have you
Q722 Chairman: I would have to find
the articles again but there were several articles written in
places like UK Press Gazette and other media publications.
Mr Hill: What has happened to
UK Press Gazette?
Q723 Chairman: Indeed.
Mr Hill: It is not even there
any more. There has not been a massive reduction; there has been
a reduction but there has not been a massive reduction.
Q724 Chairman: It was also alleged
that a lot of the journalists now working for the Express
are just out of university and earning far less than their predecessors.
One example was given.
Mr Hill: That again really is
a deliberate misinterpretation of the system. I value very, very
highly the graduate trainee scheme which we have at the Daily
Express. Every year we take on three or four people from university,
the most promising people, and we train them up as journalists.
How can that possibly be a wrong thing to do. We do not rely on
those people by any means. We have an excellent staff of very,
very experienced journalists. It has been a matter of enormous
pride to me that I have furthered the careers of many, many young
people, very promising young people who have gone on to become
extremely able journalists and who have gone on to excellent careers
in journalism because I am keen on the graduate training scheme.
In my opinion it is a laudable thing, it is an excellent thing
for these young people to be able to work in the newspaper. Furthermore,
I also am always very willing to give work experience to people
who show an interest in journalism. Part of my job is to further
this business and the way to further this business is to get new
people, new blood into it and that is the right way to do it.
We do not rely on untrained people; certainly not.
Q725 Chairman: Your support for graduate
trainees is admirable. When Richard Desmond became proprietor
he said that this was the beginning of a new era for the Daily
Express, that you were going to take on the Mail that
there would be investment and that at last there was proper competition
in the middle market. What has happened since then?
Mr Hill: We are taking on the
Daily Mail. At the moment we are spending an enormous amount
of moneyan enormous amount of moneyto get the newspaper
into the hands of more people by giving people the opportunity
to buy the paper at a reduced rate if they wish and many people
have opted for those vouchers and it has been very, very helpful
to many of our readers during the recession. Yes, of course. We
decided we would go about things in a different way. We decided
that we would get rid of all the spurious copies that other newspapers
rely on. We do not have bulks. We do not give the newspaper away.
We do not put the newspaper on airline seats for nothing. It is
a ridiculous thing to do. We do not dump hundreds of thousands
of copies abroad because the system allows you to count every
copy as a sale whether it is sold or not with those foreign supplies.
We do not do any of that. We decided we would stop all of that
and we decided that our sales would be completely honest and transparent
and I can assure you that is what we do. We do not rely on giving
away DVDs with every copy of the newspaper. We want people to
buy the newspaper for the newspaper and that has been our policy.
Q726 Chairman: Your circulation has
fallen whilst the Daily Mail's has steadily risen to the
extent that it is now outselling you by about three times.
Mr Hill: That is before my time
but I think you will find that at the moment that is not the case.
I think you will find that the Daily Mail's circulation,
in common with many other newspapers, is falling quite alarmingly,
whereas the Daily Express's circulation is not. In fact
the Daily Star's circulation is increasing because they
again have adopted a different policy.
Q727 Paul Farrelly: I think I am
right in saying that when you were the editor of the Daily
Star its circulation increased over five years by about one
Mr Hill: I think at one point
Q728 Paul Farrelly: Since the month
you took over as editor of the Daily Express, how has its
Mr Hill: I think it is pretty
good at the moment.
Q729 Paul Farrelly: What was the
monthly circulation when you took over?
Mr Hill: I only work by the day.
I honestly do not know. I would have to find out but I think it
is not dissimilar at the moment.
Q730 Paul Farrelly: To the current
Mr Hill: I think it might well
be about the same; it might well be.
Q731 Rosemary McKenna: Earlier on
you did say that you thought it was right to print stories which
were personal stories about people in which the public had an
interest. What is the difference between stories in which the
public are interested and stories which are in the public interest?
Mr Hill: I have tried to sort
of define the stories which I think are in the public interest
and those are matters which affect the public at large or significant
groups of the public or the people who set themselves up as arbiters
of public morals or of the laws or whatever it might be, people
like judges, Members of Parliament and so on and so forth, public
servants, their conduct and so on, people who are accountable
to the public, people who are paid by the public. I would say
those are matters of public interest. Matters of interest to the
public are almost anything you can think of at all. It could be
matters of simple gossip. I am quite sure that the Westminster
village, as it is called, is a hotbed of gossipI know it
is and you know it isbecause the whole of life is about
the interaction of people in one way or another. Politics is about
the interaction of people and everything. Anything that develops
from the interaction of people, in my view could be interesting
to the public.
Q732 Rosemary McKenna: Apart from
exposing public interest, put that to one side, what about people
who are not necessarily hugely in the public eye but you decide
are of interest to the public. Would you agree with the suggestion
that they ought to have prior notification if you are going to
print a story, the newspapers are going to print a story which
could be damaging?
Mr Hill: No, they should not have
prior notification because it is quite possible for someone given
prior notification of something that might be damaging to them
to prevent its publication by seeking an injunction. This might
well be granted because the judge would not know one way or the
other whether it was justified or not and then, because of the
time constraints, the story would be lost.
Q733 Rosemary McKenna: Yes, but a
story which is not going to be time barred, a story which is the
same story whether it is three weeks later or one week later and
something that could be absolutely untrue but an allegation has
been made by a third party and a fabrication of a story.
Mr Hill: In pretty much every
case we do give people the opportunity to respond to something
which is about to be written about them or we will go to people
and say we have this.
Q734 Rosemary McKenna: Are you sure
Mr Hill: Of course I am sure about
it; yes. They might have a complete answer to it. There is the
odd storyand I think you are referring to the Max Mosley
Q735 Rosemary McKenna: No, no, I
Mr Hill: where I think
it would not be possible to do that because it would have ended
up as an injunction and somehow the story would be lost.
Q736 Chairman: It would only end
up as an injunction if it was decided that the chances were the
story was in breach of the law.
Mr Hill: That it might be in breach
of the law; it might possibly be in breach of the law, yes. I
can assure you that injunctions are granted on very flimsy grounds
often, not always, but by judges who are not necessarily highly
qualified in that area. People are deputed to stand in as locums
almost in that respect. Someone can go to them and they do not
have real knowledge of what they are dealing with.
Rosemary McKenna: But they do know the
Q737 Chairman: Actually the complaint
from most of your industry is that the same judge appears to handle
every single case that ever comes up and so presumably has a very
Mr Hill: You are talking about
the privacy cases; we are not talking about your Saturday night
injunction. That can be anyone at all. You are talking about a
particular person who is trying, in some people's opinion, to
establish a privacy law all on his own.
Q738 Rosemary McKenna: Would it be
safer to protect people?
Mr Hill: It is not practical;
it is just not practical to do this.
Q739 Rosemary McKenna: So it is okay
to rubbish someone's reputation whether it is true or not.
Mr Hill: No, it is not because
we have the most Draconian libel laws in this country and if you
do that and it is not true, you are going to get sued. Not only
that, you are going to get your Carter-Rucks on the case instantaneously
because they have lookouts looking out for this at all times.
We do not operate in a situation of impunity. The newspapers in
this country have enormous constraints.