Daily Mail deputy attacks Peston over claim BBC apes rightwing papers 

Robert Peston

Tony Gallagher, a deputy editor at the Daily Mail, and the man seen by many as the natural successor to the paper’s veteran editor Paul Dacre, has struck out this weekend at Robert Peston, the BBC‘s economics editor.

Writing on Twitter, Gallagher, also a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, said Peston’s claim that the BBC slavishly followed the news concerns of both the Telegraph and the Mail was ill-founded.

“I’d love to see evidence for Robert Peston’s assertion the BBC follows a Mail/Telegraph agenda,” he wrote. “It strikes me he is talking garbage.”

The row stems from a speech made by Peston on Thursday evening in which he said that one of the most frustrating things about his job was some BBC news editors’ attitudes to the rightwing-oriented nationalnewspapers. Their news priorities were often aped, he said, in order to “play safe”.

“My entire career has been spent arguing with bosses that something they didn’t know about, or care about, mattered,” he said, speaking at the annual event organised by the British Journalism Review and the University of Westminster.

“There is slightly too much of a safety-first [attitude]. If we think the Mail and Telegraph will lead with this, we should. It’s part of the culture,” Peston went on.

This weekend, the media commentator Roy Greenslade told the Observer that he could see Peston’s point because the broadcast media often follow the lead set by newspapers in general.

“There is a lot of research showing how often the Today programme on Radio 4 follows up the stories in the papers the day before,” he said. “Tony Gallagher is being a bit disingenuous perhaps because the Mail are always saying how much they set the agenda and make the news.

“The truth is that the Daily Mail is the best-selling national newspaper and the Daily Telegraph is the best-selling broadsheet, so it is quite natural for the BBC to pay attention to what they say and for those papers to be the ones that are most often followed up,” he added.

• This article was amended on 7 June 2014. The original referred to Tony Gallagher as deputy editor of the Mail on Sunday. This has been corrected

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