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No Phone Hacking at Daily Mail Group, Says CEO

The phone hacking crisis causing turmoil at News Corp subsidiary News International will not extend to rival Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), according to the company's chief executive.

A pile of old cellular phones.
AP
A pile of old cellular phones.

After Trinity Mirror announced a review of editorial "controls and procedures" following accusations from a former reporter that phone hacking had taken place at the Daily Mirror as well as the now-defunct News of the World, some media observers had speculated that the Daily Mail or the Mail on Sunday might be next to come under attack.

Martin Morgan,DMGT chief executive, told journalists on Tuesday: “The board has received assurances that our titles have not published stories based on hacked messages.”

The phone hacking scandal has led to corporate carnage at News International, with the closure of the News of the World - whose journalists allegedly hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail - and the departure of chief executive Rebekah Brooks and former chief executive Les Hinton, who had moved to Dow Jones.

Even Rupert Murdoch's position at the top of News Corp , the company he founded has been questioned by politicians and journalists.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for hiring former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who resigned over phone hacking, as his director of communications.

Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, told the UK parliament last week that he was not aware of journalists under his editorship writing stories based on material obtained unlawfully.

DMGT, part-owned by the Harmsworth family (now known as the Rothermeres) who set up the Daily Mail in 1896, could benefit from the gap caused by the closure of the News of the World by opening a new Sunday tabloid newspaper.

“You would be surprised if we weren’t considering a suitable gap in the market for a new title,” said Morgan.

The circulation of the Mail on Sunday has already received a boost from the closure of the News of the World, according to Stephen Daintith, finance director, who said that weekly sales had risen from 1.9 million to 2.4 million since the News of the World's demise, which coincided with a cut in the price of the newspaper.

DMGT's third quarter results, announced Tuesday, showed better-than-expected organic revenue growth of 2 percent.

The decline in advertising revenues slowed. Underlying advertising revenues at Associated Newspapers were down 7 percent from the same time in 2010. In the first three weeks of July, advertising revenues were 3 percent lower than the same time last year, whilst in June the fall was 9 percent.

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