A FEW weeks ago, after my column about the demise of the News of the World, Chris Marsden of Longwood got in touch to lend me a book.
Banner Headlines by Stafford Somerfield tells the story of the NOTW from its creation in 1843 until the day in 1970 when a young owner called Rupert Murdoch sacked the paper’s editor – a certain Stafford Somerfield.
It was interesting to read the author’s experience of Fleet Street in the 1950s and 1960s, which appears to have involved one long bender at the Savoy.
There was one particularly prescient section, where Somerfield talked about his occasional scrapes with the judiciary and the police force while in charge of the paper.
“We are fortunate to live in a country where, even today, the rights of the citizen are regarded as being of the greatest importance.”
If only your successors had agreed with that sentiment, Stafford. But please, carry on.
“The present-day tendency to defy the law is madness.”
It’s a newspaper-closing madness, but I apologise for interrupting again.
“Generally we have been on the side of the police and have supported them. But, unfortunately, there are always a few black sheep.”
There’s a whole flock of them, Stafford.