This is Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of the Telegraph Group, board member of the body that bankrolls the Independent Press Standards Organisation, and friend of Andy Coulson the former jailed editor of the News of the World, and former David Cameron Downing Street pres sspokesman.
As Roy Greenslade revealed in The Guardian he has just given a lucrative contract to Andy Coulson to handle public relations for the Telegraph Group.
Tim Fenton in his Zelo Streetblog describes the whole sorry saga of Andy Coulson and how Murdoch MacLennan stood by the beleaguered former News of the World editor by providing him with a character reference in court before he was sent down.
However his take up of a £200,000 plus job – already met with horror among some Telegraph journalists – is also in the sense a damning reflection of the body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
MacLennan is a director of the Regulatory Funding Company which raises levies from the newspaper industry to pay for its work in upholding press standards and handling complaints.
While I am not suggesting – as safeguards are written into the funding arrangements that he would influence any complaint against his newspaper group – it nevertheless reflects badly on IPSO that someone on its funding board does not believe that Andy Coulson did anything wrong.
How are we to believe that IPSO really stands by such high standards when it turns a blind eye to such a breach of standards. I put this point to IPSO today and their reply dodges the issue.
“IPSO does not comment on appointments made by any of our 86 publishers”, said a spokesman.
But given the flack the rival press standards body, Impress, has faced in the media because it was funded by Max Mosley, that seemed a fair question.
Murdoch MacLennan is part of the media Establishment as Tim Fenton points out. He also is no friend of transparency – given if you check the remarkably uninformative Telegraph Media accounts at Companies House – his salary is hidden from public view. Given he is chief executive he could be the highest paid director – earning £900,000 a year in 2016. That might explain why he thought Andy Coulson’s £200,000 plus a year to do a bit of PR work was relatively small change. Another case of ” mates rates ” I think.