David Cameron pressed the owner of the Daily Mail to sack the paper’s Brexit-supporting editor, a new report has said.
According to BBC Newsnight the former Prime Minister asked Lord Rothermere if he would rein in and then dump Paul Dacre ahead of the EU referendum.
The claim sheds new light on the enmity between Mr Cameron and the Daily Mail editor, although a spokesperson for Mr Cameron insisted he did not believe he could dictate who edits the paper.
But Mr Dacre refused, since he had been an arch Brexit supporter for 25 years and thought his readers felt the same.
The following month a Westminster source told the editor that the Prime Minister had asked the Remain-supporting Lord Rothermere to sack him.
A spokesperson for Lord Rothermere refused to confirm or deny the story but insisted he did not involve himself with the paper’s editorial line.
“Over the years, Lord Rothermere has been leant on by more than one Prime Minister to remove Associated Newspapers’ editors but, as he told Lord Justice Leveson on oath, he does not interfere with the editorial policies of his papers,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Dacre said: “For 25 years, I have been given the freedom to edit the Mail on behalf of its readers without interference from Jonathan Rothermere or his father. It has been a great joy and privilege.”
A spokesperson for Mr Cameron said: “It is wrong to suggest that David Cameron believed he could determine who edits the Daily Mail.
“It is a matter of public record that he made the case that it was wrong for newspapers to argue that we give up our membership of the EU.
“He made this argument privately to the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, and its proprietor, Lord Rothermere.”